Pelican, Reflection. Point Lobos State Reserve, California. September 3, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A pelican skims above the ocean along California’s Central Coast
The brown pelicans are almost certainly my favorite California shore birds, and I photograph them often enough that I think I understand some of their habits and know when and where I’m likely to find them. (On the other hand, I have to admit to being completely unaware that we also have white pelicans until just a few years ago!) When I photograph them I often look for several specific kinds of opportunities — their incredibly low flight as they skim in groups right above the way, close passes in front of me as they ride thermals along the top edges of coastal bluffs, and their approach as they pass over peninsulas extending from the shoreline.
Seeing pelicans on this morning was a little bit of a surprise since I had not seen or photographed them much recently. I went to Point Lobos after hearing that humpback whales had been spotted close to shore, so I went right to the top of a high bluff where I could survey a big area of coastal waters. (My “whale hunt” was more than amply rewarded when groups of the whales appeared very close to the shore and engaged in bubble feeding behavior.) I wasn’t looking for pelicans, but when a few passed down below along the water’s surface I tracked them. This one flew over a small area of relatively smooth water, the surface of which reflected the mixed fog and blue sky along with the distorted shape of the bird’s shadow.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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