These shots were taken after the Black Skimmers third pass. If you’re lucky a Skimmer will be catching enough fish to create a routine on where they skim the surface.
Watching for a pattern is probably one of the few things that can help get a shot. That pattern, usually twists and turns. In this case he flew along the marsh edge, turned away from us through an opening, and suddenly came right by. Basically left to right, with a twist.
From our point of view it meant catching the bird coming in from the right at maximum focal length, then as he disappeared pull back to almost the minimum length. The next return path was that close.
The good news was once the Skimmer was past us we had a few minutes before the next try. It was a big marsh he was working. Time to plan, and laugh. Which we did plenty of, well mostly laugh.
All it takes is a brief sighting and everything else stops. Photographing a Skimmer fishing is not easy, maybe one of the most difficult shots to get.
When working the surface their flight can seem erratic. They do see the small minnows just below the water and chase them. But they also have a pattern to covering the wider marsh areas.
This bird was hunting a very large salt marsh, even at high speeds the full circle could take over five minutes. All you can do is wait for the next pass (if he doesn’t get distracted and change flight).
This Skimmer circled and fished the same general path for at least a half hour. Each time we could grab a few bursts, then wait.
This single bird was here hunting the same area, about the same time, two days in a row. Being a Skimmer we missed as many shots as we got. But that’s the fun of it.