White Pelican Flock. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 11, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A flock of white pelicans settles on an island in the San Joaquin Valley, California
It probably should be a bit embarrassing to admit that there is a lot I don’t know about birds and other kinds of wildlife, but at least I continue to get the joy of learning new things because of that! I’ve been a fan of the coastal California pelicans for some time, often photographing them along the Pacific shoreline. I’ve learned a bit about their habits, to the point that I know some particular places and conditions in which I’m likely to find them, and I’ve built a bit of a collection of photographs of these birds. But I did not know that I would find pelicans at this Central Valley location, much less that they would yet a different sort of pelican than I have known about from the coast.
On this early December morning it was tremendously foggy when we arrived. We figured it would clear – eventually – but at first it was just about impossible to find birds to photograph since the distance that they wanted to keep between themselves and curious photographers seemed to be just about equal to the limits of visibility in the fog. We could hear birds, but were barely able to see them. At one point we stopped for a moment to roll down the windows and listen and I looked up to see a completely silent flock of large birds briefly though faintly overhead as they flew through the fog. I couldn’t figure out what they were, though I recall thinking that they were pelican-like. Some time later, perhaps hours, another member of our group asked if I had seen the pelicans, and it all came together. They had spotted “white pelicans” (which I didn’t know about) in very nearly the same spot where I had seen this flock fly past. So, on a later pass around the refuge perimeter road I was watching out for them, and they turned out to be easy to see in the clearer air and better light.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.