It has been a couple of years since I went to Cabo San Lucas. Thinking about an image for Flashback Friday, one from a spectacular sunrise there came to mind. The fiery sky had me thinking about where to set up for a landscape shot when I saw a brief of brown pelicans flying low over the water. I switched to my camera with a telephoto lens attached and watched as they rose off the water. This let their silhouettes contrast sharply from the background. That got me excited and I squeezed off a couple of photos before they dropped down again and continued southwards.
If you are interested in seeing a few more images like this one, here is another photo from the same flight which I posted that morning in December 2014. And, another post where one pelican flew very close to me a couple of days later and I isolated the lone bird against the sky and the rising sun.
A few minutes later, I returned to landscape hunting and was not disappointed in any way with what nature laid out before me.
I really like Brown Pelicans (their scientific name is Pelecanus occidentalis). They can be acrobatic in flight but generally look very cool while gliding in the sky or low over waves. They are inquisitive, excellent hunters and socially engaging. They are also active early in the morning and late in the evening which allows for some great lighting opportunities when photographing them.
I have put together a gallery of a few of my favourite Brown Pelican images here (or click the image above). In the gallery, please click on any picture to see a full size image. Most of these images are from Los Cabos in Mexico with a couple of flight pictures from Laguna Beach, California.
One morning on couple of Brown pelicans were fishing close to the rocks where I was perched. This started before dawn and lasted through sunrise. There were a few great moments to silhouette one against the early sky.
The clouds changed moods swiftly through the morning. It was a very nice moment on a beautiful stretch of the coastline a few miles east of Cabo San Lucas.
After settling into the hotel room, we sat out on the deck to watch the ocean. In twos and threes, squadrons of brown pelicans swing around the rocks and glide in front of the advancing waves, climbing over the top just as the water crests and slams into the beach.
American white pelicans summer in lakes across the Canadian prairies but I had never seen their cousins, the brown pelican, in the wild before. So, I was quite excited that these huge birds (they have wingspans up to seven feet) were residents near our vacation spot. For the next couple of days, I went down to the water’s edge and enjoyed taking shots of them on the beach, fishing in the water and flying along the coastline.
When we finally went into town and spent the day around the marina and the beaches along the Sea of Cortés, I was surprised at the number of pelicans settled into the dockside environment. They play the role of seagulls down there, massing on the boats and docks as well as lounging on the rock ledges along Land’s End. There are native gulls down there as well but they do not appear to have anywhere near the same numbers as the pelicans.
At the narrow entrance to the harbour, the pelicans bob in the water waiting. As sportfishing boats return to the marina, the birds fly up and follow just off the stern, expecting to get scraps from the fishermen.
On a water taxi from the main beach area to the marina we detoured out to Land’s End where we found clusters of pelicans throughout the rock formations vying for space with cormorants and gulls.
On our last morning before heading home, I went down to the beach early and sat down to watch some of the birds who seemed to just be lounging around, in no rush to start their day.
Great fun to be able to see these impressive birds in a wide variety of places. I feel lucky to be able to have seen them displaying the many different ways they live out the day.