Florida - Brown Pelican

June 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I never saw many Brown Pelicans, but when I did I often saw them spectacularly well. Typically there would always be one cruising up and down whatever beach I was on - the trick I never managed was being exactly parallel to the bird as it either dived or landed, but I had a lot of fun trying! They're enormous, so big that even I can manage to lock onto one in flight - as you may have gathered not exactly a forté of mine. I mostly concentrated on the waders on the beach, but when a Pelican came close I rose from my prostrate position on the sand, changed camera settings and had a go. Some of the images I really like, but as always I know I can do a lot better if I spent some proper time concentrating on them. The trouble with Florida is that there is too much to do. 

As an aside a dear friend of mine, now sadly departed, used to call Pelicans Pelihonks. He was not much of a birder to be fair, and his ID skills were somewhat lacking, but during a long trip we took together up and down the East coast of Australia many years ago I gradually got him to at least start looking at them. Predator Budgie was his generic term for any bird of prey, but it is Pelihonk that has somehow stuck with me for nearly two decades - so much so that whenever I see a Pelican of any species I am immediately reminded of him. So here's to Pelihonks and great guy who went too soon.

The image above reminds me of a 747 coming into land with flaps extended. They're actually quite nimble in the air despite their size, and like a Gannet can twist and turn at the precise moment to time their dive to perfection. I however had trouble timing my coordination to perfection, and did not manage a perfect dive shot. The image below is probably the closest I came.

All of the images above were taken on an uncharacteristically murky day on the Gulf Coast. On my final morning however the sun came out which made a huge difference. I probably already mentioned it but I was so unused to the brightness that it took me a long time to control my whites. Not that there is much white on a Brown Pelican, but on adults the neck can bleach out - as can be seen on a couple of these images. Not enough to worry me, but then bright whites seldom do!




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