The Black Skimmer. Of all the birds I had occasion to see in Florida, these were the most surprisingly impressive. As I caught sight of them on that first early morning their over sized and brightly colored bills blew me away.
The first morning I only had the chance to watch a small group of them - later in the following day their were dozens in a group resting on the island.
I swear those bills are dayglo orange, they show up at a distance like construction signs.
On the topic of large, brightly colored birds, here was another common sight:
The Laughing Gull. I had seen these birds before, but not in breeding plumage.
I believe that this one has a young Franklin's Gull for a companion. Franklin's Gulls aren't nearly as common along the Florida Gulf as Laughing Gulls. The Franklin's generally stay to the west, heading north from Texas. However, young gulls are apparently not all that unusual, they will associate with Laughing Gulls, to whom they are close relations. I am basing this distinction on the size difference, and the smaller bill of the Franklin's. If there are any gull experts who are sure of a different ID please feel free to let me know. Identifying a bird that doesn't show up on the eBird list of commonly occurring species at a new location always gives me a reason to double check!
One last shot of formation flying Skimmers in parting, they were so close to completing their flying circle!