Brown Pelicans over the Salton Sea

As you can tell from my posts this month, during my recent Southern California visit I had an opportunity to photograph Brown Pelicans both times I was near water, i.e., on the Pacific Ocean and near the Salton Sea. Here are yet more images of Brown Pelicans, this time in early morning flight over the Salton Sea.

As usual with large, heavy birds, these pelicans sometimes look a bit awkward when landing or taking off, especially with their big webbed feet hanging down. The two images immediately below are of an individual during a single takeoff sequence. The first shows the pelican’s wings pushing downward.


Canon EOS 7D (400mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO500) Brown Pelican right after lifting off from the Salton Sea

Slightly later, it is looking a bit more graceful but its feet are still dangling.


Canon EOS 7D (400mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO640) Less than one second later, still trying to get higher

To me, these pelicans appear more streamlined when in full flight. I caught this one flapping its wings while flying by the camera, but with its feet gracefully tucked under its tail feathers.


Canon EOS 7D (428mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO400) Another pelican flapping its wings in full flight

Finally, here is different Brown Pelican banking away from me with its wings fully extended.


Canon EOS 7D (273mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO320) Banking away from the camera

I’ve had previous opportunities to photograph Brown Pelicans from shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and in my home state of Louisiana (where it is the state bird). On those occasions the pelicans were usually flying over the open Gulf well away from shore. It was much easier at the Salton Sea where, for some reason, the pelicans congregated near the northern shore close to our campground. Perhaps the water is less polluted in that area and provides a better fish supply for the birds. In fact, while walking not far from where these photos were taken, Donnette met a gentleman who was fishing quite successfully from the shore.


The location from which these photos were taken is shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.



Brown Pelicans over the Salton Sea — 2 Comments

  1. Again, really nice shots. I notice the pelicans shown are considerably darker than those we see along the Texas Gulf coast. Maybe a different diet? Maybe a better opportunity for a sun tan?

    • All these shots were taken rather early in the morning with a low sun. Thus, the light had a more golden tint that it does later in the day. I noticed that made some of the whiter birds not so white in their photos, and it probably made the pelicans look a little darker also. Of course, the other possibilities you mention may also apply. Well, maybe not the “sun tan” idea. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>