Monday, April 30, 2012

Lake Berry Pelicans

A loud dawn chorus gave way to a pretty quiet banding day. If you want to check out those results you can head there by clicking on the photo below (page will open in a new window).

Northern Parula

Back home I saw a few warblers around like a couple of Black-throated Blue Warblers. They were moving like crazy so I was lucky enough to get a clear shot as one grabbed something on the ground before taking to the mid-story again.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

It was time to head to the in-laws for dinner. Their home is near the shore of Lake Berry in Winter Park which occasionally holds some nice birds. Today would be no different, but I had to search the oak trees first. There were Parulas, Cardinals, Blackpoll Warblers, and another warbler I could not ID. Fortunately, I managed to snap one photo in its direction and managed a pretty clear shot. Later, I could tell it was a Cape May Warbler.

Cape May Warbler

I turned my attention to the lake and made my way to the aluminum dock to scan the area. As soon as I got to the end of the dock I flushed a Green Heron I could not see from the walk out. Dang. That would have been a good shot. I then got semi-obsessed with getting a shot of that bird. It was not long before I got another shock. A Brown Pelican was gliding toward and past me out of nowhere.

Brown Pelican

This nice looking adult was a great surprise. Brown Pelicans are sea birds and seldom found inland on freshwater lakes but it does happen at times during the Winter months. This seems really late in the year for such a sighting. This bird was making high dives from one end of the lake to the other in between gulping breaks to swallow its catches. Here is one example of a fishing run. First, the prey is sighted and the bird breaks from its cruise to turn for the dive.

Brown Pelican

Then it appears the landing gear are coming down. A slide into the water and scoop around for dinner?

Brown Pelican

Nope! Head first at full speed!!

Brown Pelican

Finally, a massive splash as the rest of its body catches up with its head where it settles in before tossing its head back to swallow the fish it has trapped in that pouch.

Brown Pelican

The adult takes to the air again.

Brown Pelican

There was also a juvenile that joined the adult. Note the overall brown where the adult has the white cap.

Brown Pelican

The juvenile had a different fishing method. It would do more wading and dipping, often stealing fish from the feeding Double-crested Cormorants. Sometimes, it would make some lower glides before stabbing the water on the way down. I caught one such moment.

Brown Pelican

Being called to dinner. Oh, I did get my Green Heron shot just before I left the shore.

Green Heron

Brown Pelicans in Winter Park in the late Spring. Go figure.

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