A Spectacular Dive

I often think birding, and especially photographing birds, is a lot like fishing. On Sunday “the big one that got away” was a sequence with a Brown Pelican diving into the water while surrounded by Heermann’s Gulls. Unfortunately, it happened so far away that I had to drastically crop all the shots.

Since it still looks okay on the screen I decided to go ahead and post the sequence in hopes it will motivate some visitors to go to the coast and see it themselves.

I completely missed the first few passes, but once I realized what was going on I focused on a Pelican “hovering” mid-air.

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I managed to capture the dive before it hit the water,

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but didn’t quite capture the critical moment just as it first entered the water.

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I have photographed Brown Pelicans diving a couple of time before. What was really different this time, though, was how aggressive the gulls were in stealing part of the catch.

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I was surprised the Pelican seemed completely indifferent to the gulls,

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though the gulls were anything but indifferent to the Pelican.

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As we watched, more and more gulls gathered.

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This gull got so close that if I hadn’t seen it fly away, I would’ve sworn that the pelican had chopped its beak down on it.

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The most exciting shot of the day, though, was another spectacular plunge.

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If I hadn’t photographed this, I would never have believed a pelican would dive into the water this way.

At least once you’ve hooked a big one, you know it’s there and you’re motivated to keep coming back until you can catch it. I’ll be back at Westport soon trying to do a better job of catching this sequence.

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