Friday, January 15, 2010

American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans on Elk River
(Far, far, far away from me)

The newspaper said in big letters "American White Pelicans sighted on Elk River!" So where does a birder go but to Elk River! Upon arriving I detect a problem - all the properties along this narrow band of river is private with No Trespassing signs clearly visible on docks and grasslands. Far in the distance, blinding white in the sunshine, are tiny white dots floating along the currents. The zoom lens proves them to be pelicans but there's no way to get closer. I drive along crookneck lanes, bobbing and weaving through potholes and tree limbs but there was no public access anywhere. The zoomed and cropped photo will have to suffice for today. Then, it snowed and I was house-bound for a bit. Me and the Yaris are not safe in snow - trust me.

After the roads were cleared up - a day or two - I went out to the dam on a whim. Surely, if they're on the Elk they'll be on Wilson Lake. Yes, yes, yes! Again, very far away but hope springs eternal. Patience may win the day. This site is part of the North Alabama Birding Trail. There is ample parking and public access and I am happy. So I go out and shoot some in the frigid wind chill but no pelican flies close for an hour or more. Again with the freezing fingers. Again with the tearing eyes and hair whipping about my face. Again with the herons and cormorants and gulls and coots.

Finally, a flock of seagulls (...that phrase takes me back) finds a school of bait fish and begin a feeding frenzy close to shore. A lone male American White Pelican spots the action and takes advantage. Finally. Finally.

He swoops and circles.

He banks and dances in the winds.

His wingspan is magnificent.

His calm demeanor shows he means business.

He turns for the landing.

His reflection is beautiful in these boiling waters beneath the dam.

Perfect landing.

Success, both him and me.


Bo Mackison said...

Beautiful pelican, these are gorgeous photos...reminds me that the Bald Eagles are on the Wisconsin River.

Gaelyn said...

YEA! You got lucky, and thus, so did we. These are awesome captures!

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Wow! Magnificent shots! White pelicans are not easy to get properly exposed against the darkness of the river- but you nailed these shots!

Eve said...

You truely are a trooper Debi! The photos are fantastic! Worth the frostbite. I'm proud of you, now if I could just get my butt out there to see them!

inadvertent farmer said...

That's it...I am speechless! Just simply stunning, you have outdone yourself this time! Kim

Anonymous said...

Now that's the perfect set of photos to tell the awesome story that this white pelican lives for. I bet it would love to see these photos too. Absolutely beautiful Debi. Amazing consecutive series of shots.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Lovely photos. I am gonna follow you.

Steve Borichevsky said...

Cool. Pelicans are a hoot.

The Garden Ms. S said...

Wow - you really captured the beauty and grace of this magnificent bird. Fantasic photos.

I just have to add that lack of public access to natural resources such as lakes or woods drives me nuts. Nuts!

Deadhorse said...

Really great set of photos Deb.

kendalee said...

Echoing all the comments above - amazing series of shots! What a powerful and graceful beauty.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Wow! These shots are fantastic! Your panning is perfect and the detail of the pelican is exquisite. Well done! I was right there with you.

Julie Magers Soulen Photography
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