A Pelican Pow-Wow

Brown Pelicans on North Basin

The last time I saw this many pelicans here, they were dive bombing a herring run.  No grown herring visited  the shallow south end of the North Basin this morning, but the big feathered dinosaurs kept on coming, and at one point I counted more than fifty of them on the water.  This meetup far exceeded the little gathering of seven that I thought extraordinary in early June.  The birds today dipped their giant beaks into the water repeatedly, but whatever they came up with, it was small fry that didn’t fill their beaks and couldn’t even be seen at a distance.  They clustered in several groups, flew short distances, and flapped their wings a bit.  Two or three grebes and a cormorant surfaced and dove nearby.  If the pelicans were vocalizing, I couldn’t hear it.  There was nothing obvious to this human observer to bring them here or to hold them together.  But apparently something was achieved, because at a certain moment just around the nadir of the low tide, they all rose from the water and flew off in an irregular flock to the west and then southward and out of sight.

In the video below, I’ve omitted the sound track, which consists mostly of wind noise, traffic, and train whistles.

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