Welcome to the blog for Thomas Parry Photography. My purpose is to inform the public about photographic projects I have recently completed as well as those in progress and planned for the future. I will periodically post articles about different aspects of photographing nature, people and places. As I work with new hardware and software tools, I will pass along lessons learned that may aid other photographers. I will periodically write reviews about photographic equipment with which I have experience and books I read that may be helpful to others. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and return frequently. I invite your thoughts, good ideas, opinions and feedback.
| 09 December, 2013 06:41
Thomas S. Parry
For the past several days (early October 2013) the California Central Coast region has seen a large influx of Brown Pelicans as well as Black Cormorants following a normal migratory and breeding cycle. The birds number in the thousands and literally crowd the coastal rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve in Big Sur. I’ve been visiting the reserve over the last several days to observe and photograph the birds and have never seen this many in one place at one time. The chatter, squabbling, cawing and grunting of the many birds formed an extraordinary cacophony of sounds. Adding to the bird chatter were the sounds of the undulating seawater, pounding surf and bark of sea lions in the distance. Being there amongst these thousands of birds was an extraordinary and unforgettable multi-sensory experience
Brown Pelicans are large, mostly dark brown birds with white to pale yellow necks and black feet and legs. Their most distinguishing feature is a long beak with a reddish-colored hooked tip and a huge throat pouch. Their legs are short and all four toes are webbed. Their wing span may be up to six feet, they soar well, and often glide low over the water. Both males and females look alike and are indistinguishable.
There are seven or eight species of pelican in the world. The breeding habitat for Brown Pelicans ranges from Anacapa Island, California south to Chile and from Maryland to Venezuela and Trinidad. After breeding, they may appear as far north as British Columbia and Nova Scotia. They are the only species of pelican that is strictly marine in habitat, never found more than 20 miles out to sea or inland on fresh water. They prefer shallow inshore waters such as estuaries and bays.
Brown Pelicans feed on mid-sized fish that they capture by diving from above and then scooping or dipping the fish into their pouch. I saw many of the birds feeding, which was precipitated by very high seas and pounding surf during the prior three days before my first visit to the reserve last week. The pounding seas bring scores of fish upon which the birds are able to feed. Brown Pelicans hunt for food often with very dramatic plunging dives. After capturing the fish they rise to the surface and drain the water from their pouch. They point their long bills up and swallow the catch. It is not uncommon that Pelicans are often robbed of their catch by gulls before they get the chance to swallow. The pelican's beak can really hold more than its stomach. Pelicans are commonly seen around fishing ports within their range, where they roost on piers, docks, and fishing boats feeding on scraps.
Brown Pelicans typically nest on small offshore islands such as those common within Point Lobos State Reserve. They nest in colonies and are sensitive to disturbance by tourists and fisherman while breeding. They usually lay two or three eggs and incubation lasts 28 to 30 days. Both parents care for the naked, helpless chicks. They feed their chicks by regurgitation, which is common with other bird species. Adult sexual maturity is reached after two to five years.
The images provided with this article were captured between October 2-4, 2013 at Point Lobos State Reserve in and around Bird Rock and China Cove. I have included several flight shots and a flight sequence. These images are available as custom pigment prints on fine art matte or luster paper in a variety of sizes. Please contact www.thomasparryphotography.com directly for more information and pricing information.
You may view the following HD video that captures some of the activities and behaviors of the birds as they frolic together in an ideal marine setting.
Additional information regarding Brown pelicans may be found at the following links: