Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In Pursuit of the Perfect Pelican Picture

For the past two weeks our days have begun and ended just a few yards from the Gulf of Mexico.
Many of the days have begun with fog, clouds, and strong winds.
These gray conditions created scenes that appeared to have been photographed using black and white film.
These monochromatic conditions shifted our focus from anticipated images of deep blue seas, widely-spaced white caps, and the light of a brilliant morning sun reflected on the water.
Even some visitors adopted the gray palette for a walk on the beach.
However, many long-term "residents" of the Galveston shore seemed unaware of these conditions.
The activity of shorebirds and gulls attracted more attention from us, perhaps because of the rather shades-of-gray background.
These conditions persisted over several days, but even when a dash of color appeared later in the day, the activity of these birds were the highlight of that time.

But it was around 4:30 one day, that we noticed pelicans flying over our campsite. It may sound strange to describe the flight of these birds as graceful, but their flight was effortless; they seemed to be floating on air. "Rather clumsy on land, pelicans fly with their necks folded and their heads resting on their backs, using slow, powerful wing beats"
We photographed some of these flights, missing far more opportunities for photos than we caught. But we were hooked.
We had to find out where and how to get closer to this "...comically elegant bird with an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and big, dark body" (allaboutbirds.org/guide/brown_pelican/lifehistory).
At first, we thought there was something about that particular time of day that signified a change in their location, but over the next few days, we realized that there were several flights of small groups of pelicans throughout the day.
We noticed that they usually flew in groups, sometimes in the typical "V" formation, but usually in regular lines or single file.
So we set about learning about the Brown Pelican with our goal being the Pursuit of the Perfect Pelican Picture.
We would be persistent.
Patient, but persistent.

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