Magnificent In Name, Magnificent in Flight
Sometimes you see something and some distant memory flickers and you know instantly what it is. This happened in Barbados when I saw my first Frigate bird, even though I'd only ever seen them in books or on TV.
One minute the bird is a dot on the horizon and then seemingly within seconds they are overhead skimming the waves looking for a meal. I did a little research as I had no idea what type of frigate bird they were or even if there was more than one species. There are apparently 5 types and these were the aptly named Magnificent Frigate bird. They soar on thermals and small breezes effortlessly covering huge distances without ever seeming to beat their wings.
They are huge birds with a wingspan up to 90 inches across and a wicked hooked beak which they use to pluck fish from the surface or intimidate other birds into dropping their catch. Females are black with a white chest and head while males are black with an irridescent sheen to their feathers. They also have a red throat which can be expanded like a balloon when they are trying to attract a mate.
Amazingly they never land on water and like the swift can spend days and nights in flight catching a sleep whilst flying. Absolutely stunning to see and their effortless flying skills were a joy to witness. True aerial freedom.