Pelican Pond

Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis)

The full moon flexed its muscle today. Overnight it pulled up the waters of the North Basin over the seawalls and onto the pathways, as it has for more than a decade, thanks to City neglect of basic border maintenance. Then at 6 this morning, the moon drained the water out, as if it had pulled the plug, and big stretches of bottom mud lay uncovered, so that with good boots you could have walked across. That low tide, measuring minus 1.6 feet, proved a magnet for Brown Pelicans. They’ve come in large numbers in recent weeks — see “Great Pelican Pow-Wow” June 22 2021 and “Pelicans Back” July 10 2021 — but the gathering this morning dwarfed the previous. There might have been five hundred. My video above mostly shows the birds in action, in flight; they made a spectacular display.

I made a second video, below, just for counting purposes. It’s not very exciting; most of the birds are just sitting at this moment and a diligent person — more diligent than I — could count them. There were several flocks of them, spread out over large areas of the cove, with some of them shifting position frequently. When they left the area, some took off northward, some west, some south. By 8:30 in the morning, all but a dozen or two had flown off.

Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis)

I saw also about half a dozen Snowy Egrets, several Western Gulls, two Great Egrets, and a possible Green Heron, all working the mud. But the pelicans overwhelmed the scene.

View of the low tide at 6:22 a.m., just before sunrise, seen from the west bank of the North Basin Cove with a minus 1.6′ tide

View looking north from the Virginia Street Extension at 6:27 a.m. with a minus 1.6′ tide
View of the Schoolhouse Creek channel at 6:34 a.m. with a minus 1.6′ tide

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