Tag Archives: Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican Show-off

I can’t help but smile when I see a Brown Pelican, they are just goofy looking birds.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

Then, they do something even goofier looking.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

South Carolina’s coastal bays and rivers are full of entertainment.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Open wide!

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Story River, from a boat, September 13, 2019

Brown Pelican Showing Off His Feet

Brown Pelicans are fascinating to watch in flight, so graceful yet so prehistoric looking.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

I thought this one was going to land and try to catch a fish. He dropped his feet.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

But then he tucked them in as he glided over a school of jumping fish.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Fooled me again.

Brown Pelicans eat by either diving into the water and scooping food into their beak/pouch or sometimes by bobbing on the water and snatching up a fish, not by picking it up with their feet–I’m not sure what he was up to here.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Then it was landing gear up and away he went down the river, no lunch.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Bird Rookery

The rookery islands do not rise much above sea level which is one of the reasons the Brown Pelican nests have a low success rate. Over wash from storm driven tides can and has easily wiped out whole colonies on this and other barrier islands.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

The bird chaos was amazing with numerous species in addition to the Brown Pelicans using the island. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and Laughing Gulls were well represented.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

This view is the sea-ward end of the island, with the shore crowded with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls. The island down to the low tide mark is a protected preserve.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery, Sign: “Island Closed – Do Not Come Ashore”

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

See my previous post Brown Pelican Chicks for a closer look at five chicks.

Brown Pelican Chicks

Brown Pelicans nest on several islands that are really not much more than sand bars off the Charleston, SC coast. Storms and the tides shift the availability and viability of nesting sites from year to year. I had the privileged to observe one of these sites this morning, where the Pelican chicks are out of their nests but not yet flying or getting their own food.

This particular island was re-nourished with sand dredged from the Folly River last year with spectacular results for this year’s nesting Pelicans.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks, Laughing Gulls looking on

It was a delightful outing and seeing these Pelican chicks was a real treat. This appears to be two sets of chicks, with the younger group testing out their bills in the water.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Brown Pelicans in Flight

Watching Brown Pelicans fly can be mesmorizing. They often glide in small groups along the shore line, gracefully and with what looks like little effort.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

And with some secret signal they turn in unison.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

These were taken at the end of the day and there wasn’t much light. This last Pelican was by himself and went right over my head, and yes I wear a hat.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

Brown Pelican Take Off

Brown Pelicans have learned to gather where Dolphins are strand feeding. They’ve figured out that fish can’t be far off and may be available for poaching.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican at River’s Edge

I was watching this one as he artfully took off.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

And swooped out over the river.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

I didn’t realize until he turned and landed that I was missing a Dolphin strand feeding.

Brown Pelican Watching Dolphins Strand Feed
Brown Pelican Watching Dolphins Strand Feed

Shem Creek Pelicans

Brown Pelicans are attracted to Shem Creek by the commercial fishing activity and are often seen cleaning up behind the boats as they clean their catch. Other times they drop into the creek and fish on their own.

Pelicans in Shem Creek
Pelicans in Shem Creek

Shem Creek also hosts a Kayak/Stand Up Paddleboard rental shop and a public boat ramp for those with their own equipment. This pair of paddlers wasn’t paying much attention to the Pelicans gliding by. I’m not sure how that would be possible.

Pelican and Kyakers
Pelican and Kyakers

Pelicans will land on anything and everything. Their sheer size (between 4 and 11 pounds) always makes them stand out. I liked this shot with the colorful hulls in the background.

Pelican Resting on Docked Boat
Pelican Resting on Docked Boat

Shem Creek – click image for larger viewTaken with my new 20mm lens, 3/24/2018.

Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 20mm F2.8