Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pelican Dive

Ah, it's good to be home. No, really, I love Michigan this time of year. Sure, Florida has a very subtle change of seasons--as a matter of fact the live oaks are in bloom--but it's nothing like it is here. I rejoice in the slow awakening of the world around me, noting the days when the first red-wing blackbird sings for its territory in the marsh across the road, or the first chirpings of the chorus frogs in our neighbor's pond.

As promised, I went down to the beach early one morning--the only way to beat the spring break crowds--and waited for the pelicans. It was a dark morning, cloudy, with a bitter west wind numbing my fingers. But pelicans gotta eat, no matter how windy or chilly, and I did my best to take some photos. I had to set the ISO (remember film speed?) pretty high in order to get a fast enough shutter speed to not blur the shots, so they are pretty grainy, but I was short on time and couldn't wait for it to lighten up.

Like many diving birds, the brown pelican will hover somewhat as it locates its prey, and then tucks into a sort of a stoop, although not as graceful as a peregrine falcon's. They steer with their wings and perhaps control their speed with their huge webbed feet. They do not seem to go very far below the surface, as you'll see in this sequence of shots.

Here's another sequence of shots:

It was great fun, picking out a bird and trying to follow it in the viewfinder as it dropped out of the sky. All around me the beach was dotted with clusters of shore birds and gulls and terns. I will post more beach pics tomorrow, but for now, one last shot from another sequence that I really liked.