Dive bombers: Pelicans fishing in Laguna
While in California last week, every morning flights of Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) would glide over the water off of Aliso Beach in Laguna. A few of these would peel off and spiral up into the sky and then widen their circles while watching the water from high above. The last time I photographed Brown pelicans was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a couple of years ago. I did not have the opportunity to watch those pelicans fish in the ocean so Laguna with its dive-bombing birds was a lot of fun for me.
When a target was found they would point directly down and plunge towards the ocean.
Most of these dives resulted in the bird completely disappearing underwater for a second or two. More often than not a fish was caught between the chopsticks of the bird’s beak.
The seals were drawn to the same schools of fish so there were some neat moments with them close to a bird either going for a fish close-by or maybe even thieving one from the pelican.
I love watching these pelicans glide over the water. Often, they will skim a few inches above the surface for several hundred yards between wing beats. They will fly alone, in pairs or larger flocks all following the same path.
They are great fliers which is most obvious during the exciting dives as they pin wheel and then dive. When they launch out of the water, the power and skill flying that they command are on display as well.
I could spend a lot of time photographing these birds. They are graceful gliders, spectacular divers and great fishers. They present great opportunities for the photographer – including a little hide-and-seek!
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This entry was posted on April 7, 2013 by Christopher Martin. It was filed under Birds, California, Nature, Wildlife and was tagged with Aliso Beach, birds, brown pelicans, California, fishing, flying, Laguna, nature, Pacific Ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, wildlife photography.