For my dad's 75th birthday a group of us met for lunch in the historic city of Madisonville, about 60 miles east of Baton Rouge. The restaurant is located on the Tchefuncte (Cha-FUNK-tah) River with dining outside. I was so thankful I listened to that inner voice nagging me to bring my 400mm lens, for when I looked out onto the water there were dozens of brown pelicans and flocks of gulls. I immediately removed the 55-250 mm lens and strapped on the big guy.
Most pelicans hunt for fish by swimming on top of the water, scooping up fish as they go along. But the brown pelican approaches food gathering in a more physically demanding manner. Soaring above the water, they look for fish swimming close to the surface. Visually spotting their prey, they dive straight down from a height of sometimes 60 feet, stunning the fish on impact. This method of plunge-diving causes about 3 gallons of water to fill their huge pouches. As they open their bills and shake from side to side to release the water they will sometimes lose a fish or two. The gulls are right there to scoop up any cast-offs. I actually saw a gull brazenly nab a fish directly from the bill. Talk about drama! Yes, I'm easily amused.
This isn't my best work, but I'm posting it anyway. Normally I would say click on the photo for a larger, better view. But please don't. :)
|Gull: GIve it up!! I know you're trying to hide it!!|
|Preparing for a dive|
|This pelican is trying to empty his pouch underwater in an effort to prevent the opportunistic gull from stealing.|
|Gull trying a sideways maneuver possibly to throw off the pelican's equilibrium.|
|Haha! Where are you now, you thieving gull!|
|Ooops, spoke too soon.|
|Meal is safe and secure. From the pelican's viewpoint anyway. I'm sure the fish feels a little differently.|
|There was a quaint little antique shop (formerly a grand home) on the same street as the restaurant. I loved this little outhouse that sat whimsically on the property.|
|Not totally dependent on thieving, this gull actually dived down and got his own meal. Made me feel a little better about them.|
CORRECTION: This is a Forster's Tern. Thanks, Hilary from The Smitten Image!
I hope you enjoyed the bird lesson today!