Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Pelican Brief

I had been wanting to get down to the beach at the Canaveral National Seashore for years. The problem has been that the beach is closed for several days on either side of a shuttle or rocket launch, and it seemed our past visits coincided with activity at the space center. So I was excited to finally be able to get to the beach.

What I expected was a vast stretch of deserted, wild beach. What I got was party town. We were really surprised at the number of people on the beach considering that it is not a particularly easy drive there. Ah well, a little humanity would do us good.

We had hardly gotten the blanket spread across the sand when I looked south down the beach and saw this, headed right for us:

I scrambled to get my camera out of the bag--this was the biggest group of Brown pelicans I had ever seen. I've counted 42 in the above image, and I'm not sure that's all of them.

I snapped away as they approached up the beach.

A flock of pelicans is called a number of things, including brief, squadron (seems appropriate seeing these photos!), pod, pouch and scoop.

The group consisted of a variety of ages, from adults with their blue eyes and yellow heads to yearlings with their more mottled plumage and dark eyes. Adult pelicans have a light coloring under their wings--this young one still has its darker plumage, and I think it looks like it's wearing one of those skeleton T-shirts.

Once they passed I took a few shots of them from behind. There were many more, although smaller, groups to come. Maybe they were staying the hell away from the now-polluted waters of the Gulf.

Maybe they were flying to the moon.

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