Posts tagged “Pelecanus occidentalis

A new gallery of Brown Pelican images

Brown Pelican on a Cabo beach - © Christopher Martin-

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.


Sunrise and pelican silhouettes

Sunrise Pelican - © Christopher Martin-4764

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.

Sunrise Pelicans - © Christopher Martin-4623

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.

Sunrise Pelican - © Christopher Martin-4776-2


On the rocks with a Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican Launch - © Christopher Martin-5810

Brown Pelicans are frequent fliers just above the waves all around Los Cabos.  I love watching them glide and I had a special encounter one morning when we were staying near Cabo San Lucas in December.  Just before sunrise down on the beach near Punta Cabeza De Ballena, east of Cabo, when one landed on rocks near the shore close to me.  This pelican came in when it was still pretty dark but there was enough light to make the landing a good photo opportunity.

Pre-dawn flight - 2013 © Christopher MartinLanding run - 2013 © Christopher Martin

In the two images above, I brought out some detail by bringing up the shadows in post.  Below, I went the other way and deepened the shadows to create a solid silhouette of the pelican.

2013 © Christopher Martin

This fellow flew off before the sun came up.  I had hoped he would stay as the sun was at an angle where the sun would be backlighting the feathers which I thought would look beautiful.

Pre-dawn launch - 2013 © Christopher MartinEven though he left a bit early for me, it was great when it flew close to the waves in between the rocks and the crests of the waves as it passed me by.

Brown Pelican's sea flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

As the sun came up so too did the tide.  The waves were breaking around the rocks where the pelican had rested which looked beautiful.  I was really happy when another pelican came in and landed very close to the original one’s spot.  With the sun and sea spray, it was a great scene to photograph.  The first image in this set was from this point in the morning.

Brown Pelican in black and white - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Brown Pelican observations- © Christopher MartinAir drying - 2013 © Christopher Martin
Brown Pelican Launch - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The second pelican stayed for a little while and then took off allowing for a nice launch photograph and then headed over the waves in the opposite direction from the first pelican.

Water flight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

 


Pelican Landing

Dawn landing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The colors in the sky at dawn have been fantastic during our visit to Los Cabos this week.  The wildlife has been even more enjoyable.  Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) have been a favourite bird of mine to photograph since I first saw them here in Cabo san Lucas a couple of years ago.  On the prairies, we have White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) that will hang out on larger ponds for the summer but for some reason they don’t cast the same spell on me that their multi-coloured cousins do.  I had a great encounter with a pair of pelicans a couple of mornings ago.  This image was of the first one maneuvering in to land on a half-submerged rock pile just before sunrise.  The other pelican joined a little while later.  Probably once I get home, I’ll have more to share from these two.


Dive bombers: Pelicans fishing in Laguna

A pelican's dive - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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.

Flying forward - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Fish finding - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Dive prep - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When a target was found they would point directly down and plunge towards the ocean.

Diving for fish - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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.

Resurfacing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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.

Pelican flight and seal leap - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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.

Ground effects - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Ocean peloton - 2013 © Christopher Martin

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.

First flap out of the water - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Into the air - 2013 © Christopher Martin

2013 © Christopher Martin

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!

Hide-and-seek - 2013 © Christopher Martin