Sea Skimmer

Black Skimmers at Snake Bight

Black Skimmers at Snake Bight


Sea’s calm and the tide’s inches in

as sun beans glint on bay waters

Then, without announcement

the squadrons move in


One after another in perfect synchronization

each formation passes our reviewing stand,

low stealth winging across the shallows

in winter deployment


What signal brought in each skimmer conspiracy

What flight school honed these precision skills

where pilots snuggle up behind an unseen leader

as they circle through precision hairpin turns


Inform us Rynchops niger,

with your black masks and knife-like noses

Tell us of instinct and imitation

with a heritage deeper than time


Do you know of the Majesty of beginnings

or just of the seed that perpetuates

Fly on, island skimmer

while I revel in your being


Note: Some explanation is due. The photo is of a “conspiracy” (a group) of Black Skimmers. Their scientific name is Rynchops niger. The terminology “pilots snuggle” refers to fighter jets in close formation. My husband and I had an opportunity to watch the Air Force Thunderbirds a few months ago during an air show. Then, of recent, we were guests at a Black Skimmers air show of their own which preceded their regular feeding time when the tide just covers the flats, making skimmer fishing ripe.  The similarity was obvious.

Snake Bight is a bay on Florida Bay near Flamingo in Everglades National Park. It’s a lovely place for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and bird watching, and a venue not to be missed if you enjoy those activities.


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