Tag Archives: Black Skimmer

African skimmers in the Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana

Afrikanischer ScherenschnabelMorning haze lays over the wide river plain. Perched low on a Sandbank dozens of black and white colored birds with a strikingly long red bill are standing. These are the long-awaited African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris). When we’ve left the river bend for a while, the whole flock starts moving with a heavy, powerful wing beat. First, the flock turns a round over the sandbar. Then the flock turns into low altitude flight. The black-and-white-colored, roughly tern-sized birds with their long, elegant wings fly a few centimeters above calm water, hovers prey-hunting parallel to the water surface. Suddenly they pull out their oversized, laterally flattened and sharp-edged lower beak and pull it, flattening its wings, through the upper layers of water. They fly until their beaks come into contact with a fish. Shortly thereafter, these birds close their beak abruptly, and a small silver fish disappears wriggling in the throat of the successful hunters.

Because of their peculiar hunting style these birds are called skimmers in English. Many years ago I was fascinated by a very special species of bird at the Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon. In the silence of dusk, these birds flew over the wide river in small groups, holding one another strangely over the water. Their sweeping wings almost touched the surface of the water every time they hit. Her flight was straightforward, not too fast and her flapping wings steady, elegant and had something of a provocative phlegmatic slowness. They were “my” first Skimmers, more specifically Black Skimmer (Rynchops nigra), as I soon realized. Her submerged beaks plunged furrows into the red colored water of the Amazon.

This spectacular species of prey can only be observed in three species today: the Skimmers of the genus Rhynchops, which are native to the Asian and African tropics and along the American coast. An excellent spot to see African Skimmers in Africa in the Sanaga River  in Cameroon.

The beaks of the Skimmers have over thirty special adaptations to Continue reading African skimmers in the Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana

Vogelfotografie auf Sanibel Island

BraunpelikanHunderte verschiedener Wasservögel säumen die Ufer und suchen nach Nahrung, darunter Nashornpelikane (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), Braunpelikane (Pelecanus occidentalis), Ohrenscharben (Phalacrocorax auritus), Schmuckreiher (Egretta thula), Kanadareiher (Ardea herodias), Silberreiher (Casmerodius albus), (weiße) Ibisse (Eudocimus albus), Rosalöffler (Ajaia ajaja). Einer der interessantesten Vögel ist der Kleine Blaureiher (Egretta caerulea). Wie ein Gaukler bewegt er sich beim Fischen durch das seichte Wasser, den Kopf in alle Richtungen schwenkend. Mal streckt er einen Flügel aus, mal beide, um das Wasser abzuschatten. Und das alles im Laufschritt. Irgendwann stößt er dann blitzartig zu, häufig mit Erfolg.

Unter Insidern bestens bekannt ist die Möglichkeiten, auf Sanibel Island zu guten Bildern an- und abfliegender Fischadler (Pandion haliaetus) zu kommen. Manche der Masten mit den mächtigen Nestern stehen in den Vorgärten der Bungalows direkt am Meer. Häufig steht im Garten ein alter Baumstamm, auf dem sich der Fischadlerhorst befindet. Hier sieht man während der Brutsaison den Altvogel mit drei oder vier Jungen im Nest sitzen. Der zweite Altvogel fliegt ständig aufs Meer hinaus und kommt mit großen Fischen zurück. Auf der Straße stehen manchmal bis zu zehn Fotografen mit ihren Tele-Kanonen. Gelegentlich zielen sie auch auf Schwarzmantelscherenschnabel (Rynchops niger) und Königsseeschwalbe (Sterna maxima), die direkt am Meer leben Continue reading Vogelfotografie auf Sanibel Island

Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013

In late summer (mid-late August/early September), the Brehm Fund for International Bird Conservation, Bonn, offers an ornithological tour to the United States. The southwestern part – located between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – provides numerous ornithological highlights, which we will do in California and Texas Station.

California, because of its exposed location along the Pacific flyway, has an extremely diverse avifauna (over 640 species), including interesting deposits of water-and seabirds. In addition, up to 10 different species of hummingbirds, such as Anna’s, Costa’s and Calliope Hummingbird, can be observed regularly. Highlights of the trip will detour to the coastal marshes south of Los Angeles (e.g. Western Sandpiper, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow), the lagoon of Malibu (Least Tern, Black Skimmer) and in the vicinity of the Salton Sea (Caspian Tern, Yellow-footed Gull). We will also check typical chaparral habitats (coastal shrub with endemic Wrentit, California Quail, Black-headed and California Gnatcatcher) and visit the coastal mountain range with its coniferous forests (occurrence of Acorn Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, Steller’s Jay). The trip to a bird island of Channel Islands National Park (including endemic Island Scrub-Jay, colonies of Brandt’s Cormorant and California Gull and the possibility of observing whales) can be scheduled optional. In 2009 and 2011 excellent images of pelagic birds could be shot to enlarge the portfolio von Bird-Lens. With a bit of luck these seabirds – as you see here in the gallery– can be seen on the ferry Continue reading Fall bird migration and waterfowl in southwestern USA – August 2013