Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Just Pelicans


Pelican Acrobatics. A juvenile acting juvenile.

Pelican Parley.
Surrounded by his muscle goons, the Pelican Patron negotiated fishing rights with the Cormorant Clan.
Patron: "60 / 40 is our final offer ... I advise you and your Cormorant pals not to refuse it or ... you might be swimmin' wit da fishes ... if youse knows what I mean."
Cormorant: "Uhm, yes, well about that, you see, swimming 'wit da fishes' is actually how we catch ..."
Patron: "Shaaddddduuppp!"

Yes, dear, I know we're being followed. Just keep swimming and don't look back.


I hate it when I have to flap.

Ahhhhh, now that is more like it.
Brown pelicans (Pterodactylus modernus) are very common around here. They nest on the outlying keys this time of year with sloppy nests built on scrubby storm sculpted maritime oaks. We used to run a summer marine science camp out at Seahorse Key that got me out there during the "closed for bird nesting" period in June.
As an instructor, I lived on Seahorse Key for a week at a time surrounded by nesting pelicans, frigate birds, ibis, etc. At times, it seemed every big tree on the island hosted two or three huge nests with one to two ugly as sin pelican chicks. These nests are barely off the ground too, so you could get a birds eye view of all the action.
Pretty stinky actually.
The pelicans were completely acclimated to the comings and goings of the small staff so they ignored you. This meant you could watch the parents regurgitating fishy glop back into the babies clamoring bills from only a few feet away. There was a tree next to the dock that always had a nest or two in it. I always liked to walk down there after supper and sit on the dock watching the pelican baby antics while listening to the mullet jumping.
Background music was provided by white ibis, frigate birds, and terns returning to the island after a days fishing.
Not bad work when you can get it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

FC-
Pelicans scare me! (Not as much as spiders) but they seem aggresive and territorial am I correct on that? I remember the first time we went to Cedar Key when the kids were all small how they (the pelicans not the kids)would rise and fall as the fishermen pretended to be throwing scraps in the water. Also one trip to PCB and they wouldn't let us go pass them on the pier! Great pics and I'll think of you at dinner tonight!
Lightnin

Susan said...

Pelicans are a dichotomy. They're absolute clowns when diving for fish and when waddling on land. But in flight formation, they're the elite "Guardians of the Shoreline."

Pelicans represent Florida very well.

Thanks for the insight about their messy nesting grounds. No wonder they head for water.

threecollie said...

Glad to know there are still lots of pelicans around. One my one and only trip to Florida in 1973 we only saw a very small number of them. Nice photos!!

jojo said...

Odd creatures don't you think? I would get so mad at them when i was younger (like they could help it) when we used to frequent the pier and go fishing there was always one that would get tangled in fishing wire. or have a hook stuck in them. It really was such a sad sight. And trying to help them? Those beaks BITE!!!
Though funny how they would just saunter up the pier, and steal people caught fish!

Miz S said...

Your pictures are making me hungry for the beach. We're doing 2 weeks on the Outer Banks in August, and I know I'll be seeing a ton of these guys.

she said...

i recently fished down in the everglades and naturally made good friends with all the pelicans hanging around the cleaning station. i like the rookeries of juvenile pelicans. they are so funny -not quite 100% with that big ass pouch mouth.

so, the troll tells me you named your dog after a fish?
My dog is named "Trout" , she was born in the cohuttas of north georgia. whats your dogs fish name?

Anonymous said...

I think you need to open up more windows when primering and painting. Your little narrations crack me up! I'm really jealous of all the good photo ops. you have down there. A lot more variety than here Freeman, MO. But, every now and then I get lucky. I did finally get a shot of a Cookoo, not one to brag about, but got one.
Bro J

amarkonmywall said...

You know how to win me over. Not that you haven't, but I love me some pelicans. Because, you know,

"A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill can hold more than his belly can,
He can store in his beak,
Enough food for a week,
Don't ask me how the hellican"

and so forth ad so on. I think they are just the best and this is a lovely photo review of them. When I first arrive in Tampa and take the bridge to St. Pete, they are coasting at eye level along side and I feel as though I am home.

Say, apropos your comment at Miz S' place, did you know that St. Petersburg is in Florida. ;-)

Wren said...

Oh, nice photos. I like pelicans, too, though I've never gotten as close to them as you did in these photos.

And I can believe smelly, too.

Anonymous said...

They're nice critters. Every fisherman in Florida should know how EASY it is to get them free of hook-or-line. Most just cut their line and leave the poor critters entangled because they're wussies or lazy.

That leaves the pelican in mortal danger. And there's no reason for it.

Troll

Danielle Says Hello said...

Awesome shots!!!! I have yet to get a great shot of the pelicans in flight...no matter how long I stand on the docks at Macraes (grin).

Deb said...

Not bad work? I agree. My job has been not bad work lately as I can watch duck broods and eagles.

Pterodactylus? What a great name!

Aunty Belle said...

Fun shots-- I like them big birds--more gradeful that they look, ain't they?

Well, youse inspired me. Will have to git own back over to Cedar Key to the Island hotel fer some salad wif' peanut butter dressin'.

Meanwhile, if ya' git a chance, sugar, please come see my FRONT porch fer another look at "Pure Florida."

Floridacracker said...

Lightnin,
It's probably that flying dinosaur thang they got goin' on.
Spiders are much worse tho!

Susan,
What was also amazing about that nursery were the huge cottonmouth moccasins that lived on the island. I think they ate the rats that ate the pelican poo.

3C,
In 1973 they were still recovering from the DDT decline in their numbers so that makes sense.

JOJO,
The hooked end of that beak is pretty scary when you are right there with them. They sometimes land on my boat coming in to CK and demand food.
They look 3X as big when they do that.

Miz S,
2 weeks there sounds wonderful. We will be expecting lots of pictures.

She,
Welcome to Pure Florida!
My old yellow lab is named Flounder.
It was a toss up between Mullet and Flounder at the time.
Thanks for commenting!

Bro,
The scissor-tailed kind?

Vicki,
Gak! I'm an idiot!
You're such a jetsetter, I probably thought Miz S meant Russia.


Wren,
Hey! Yes, a rookery is smellier the closer you get to it.

Troll,
Good point, tho I've never tangled one. I have once or twice had a least tern tangle in my line while surf fishing.
And there was that anhinga that tried to take my eyes out while I attempted to untangle him.

Danielle,
These were all taken the same day recently out in the boat.
Sounds like your bird blind is in a good location though :)

Deb,
Nice little side benefits not listed in our job descriptions!
Glad you like my Latin.

Aunty Belle,
Welcome to Pure Florida!
I'll be dropping by your porch today.