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.


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


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


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.


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


though the gulls were anything but indifferent to the Pelican.


As we watched, more and more gulls gathered.


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.


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


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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