A few days ago I took some time out of my busy schedule and drove down to Sturt Reserve near the centre of town. I had a reason to take my camera with on this occasion which was just as well because I saw and photographed quite an interesting range of our local birds.
This Australian Pelican posed or me on the end of a small jetty near the reserve. With the mid-morning sun coming from behind it gives an interesting effect.
I recently visited Goolwa near the mouth of Australia’s longest river, the Murray. While doing some bird photography in the area this Australian Pelican took off from the river. I managed a reasonable photo of the bird as shown above. One of the challenges ahead of me is to gain more experience in taking shots of birds in flight. Species like gulls and terns can make excellent subjects for this type of photography because they often swoop or glide low overhead enabling good action shots. Slow moving birds like pelicans and eagles can also be good practice.
I still have plenty to learn in this area.
The Australian Pelican is found throughout Australia where there is suitable habitat. They prefer large expanses of waters such as lakes, reservoirs, swamps, wetlands and rivers. The water can be fresh, brackish or saline. They are found in both coastal and inland areas where there is suitable habitat.
They tend to be highly nomadic and will respond to flooding. For example, Lake Eyre in northern South Australia fills occasionally from Queensland floods, and this will stimulate the migration of hundreds and even thousands of birds. During these events they can breed in their thousands, dispersing across Australia when the waters recede and the lake becomes a dry salt lake again.
These captive birds at Adelaide Zoo are a good subject for practising one’s photographic skills.
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking about Australian Birds, and showing some of my bird photos, at our local Mobilong Ladies Probus Club. There were just over 100 attentive women at the meeting, they all appeared to enjoy my presentation and they even laughed at my jokes!
One of them asked me a very difficult question, one I couldn’t answer: What is a baby pelican called?
Many birds and animals have specific names for their young, eg cygnets for swans, cubs for bears and kittens for cats. It seems however that no-one has got around to giving a special name to baby pelicans. So be it.
An extensive search online has revealed that one person calls them “toddlers”, an entirely appropriate name reflecting their waddling gait when quite young. This could also be just a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, and the site where it appeared is not at all authoritative in any way.
So I guess we’ll just have to make do with “chicks” or “nestlings” like the vast majority of birds.
We don’t get all that many Australian Pelicans in our garden. In fact, we’ve only ever had pelicans flying overhead on a handful of occasions over the last 25 years or so, despite living only about 5km from the River Murray where they are quite common.
Yesterday my wife noticed two flying overhead but didn’t think to mention it to me until much later. Even if I had known I wouldn’t have been able to get a lovely photo like the one above. I took that on a holiday in Victoria last year. The pelicans in this photo came very close to the jetty where some anglers were cleaning their catch. I guess the attraction of a free feed of fish is irresistible to a pelican. Made the job of getting a photo very easy.