Pelicans up close…

Brown Pelicans are the only type that feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them up in their expandable throat pouches.

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A good news story — Brown Pelicans were once severely endangered in the United States. The major cause of their decline was pesticide poisoning. Since DDT was banned, there has been a full recovery on the east coast and other populations are showing steady improvement.

A pelican’s bill does have a larger capacity than its stomach. A pelican’s stomach can hold up to 1 gallon (3.79 liters), while its pouch can hold up to 3 gallons (11.36 liters). That adds up to the equivalent of 8 pounds (3.63 kilograms) in the stomach and about 24 pounds (10.89 kilograms) in the pouch.

The average Brown Pelican weighs 4-7 pounds. Their wingspan is usually 6-7 feet. Fossil records show that pelicans have been around for more than 40 million years, so they must be doing something right!

When it comes to wildlife, you have to photograph what you got…and we got pelicans. Squadrons of them!

Living in a marina on water in a fishing village on the east coast of Florida, you are guaranteed pelicans as your neighbours.

A few days ago we took the opportunity of a sunny, calm day to toot around the Manatee Pocket in our dinghy, just to see what we would see. And we saw pelicans.

I didn’t have my long lens so we had to get pretty close to photograph these guys in the detail I hoped for. I also used a superfast shutter speed and “continuous shoot”. They move awfully fast when they’re flying about, so I’m pleased that  I managed to capture some images that worked.

I don’t think I could have got these reflections if I hadn’t been in a dinghy. I can see why photographers get hooked on wildlife photography. I hope to head out again one of these days to spend more time with our pelican friends.

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