Last fall, Q and I had the good luck to be at Sunset Bay at several different times when waves of pelicans would land. A large group would suddenly appear very high above the bay, and the birds would slowly spiral down on the thermals. When the group got low enough, individual birds would begin raining down into the water. Sometimes all of the birds in a group would land, but usually only some of the group landed while the rest flew back up on the thermals and moved on. Sometimes birds on the ground would fly up on the thermals and move on with the other pelicans.
When new birds land, there is great potential for excitement: birds bathing, exploring their new environment, fighting with other birds for the best loafing locations, etc.
I was still seeing scissor-tailed flycatchers in the area, and when I arrived at the lake on the 16th, I saw one hanging out in a tree near a small field.
Several pelicans were swimming around the bay, exploring. Almost immediately a pelican forced another pelican off a slightly elevated loafing area, then stole her position.
The usurping pelican beat her wings in triumph.
The pelican stood there for less than two minutes before deciding that the area just wasn’t good enough for her.
I thought she would swim around until she found a better log to jump up onto, but I was in for a surprise. She took off right there from the water!
The pelican she had initially kicked off the log also got in on the action.
The pelican who had taken off first didn’t fly very far, and I tracked her as she went by.
I looked around to see what else was going on around the bay.
Then I noticed some familiar activity out on a log.
Yes, I definitely knew what was going to happen next!
The attacked pelican was able to hold her ground and go back to preening. Sometimes when pelicans are hanging out, one bird will attack another for seemingly no reason.
A different bird engaged in a good flapping fit nearby. I love seeing the way they move their wings and what their wings look like in different positions.
A sleepy pelican drifted by the Queen of the Log. She looked like a big floating marshmallow.
And a juvenile was stretched out, scratching.
I looked up and noticed a flock of pelicans overhead. Yes! This was the action I’d been hoping for! There were at least twenty birds in the flock, and all of them landed. Unfortunately, they landed out past the far-away logs, but they did eventually start swimming in to interact with the existing birds.
A new bird waddled up to the Queen of the Log pelican. I waited for her to jump on or for the pelican on the log to snap at her. Instead, the intruding pelican began to preen. Nooooo!
A juvenile attempted to explore and conquer the log that a different juvenile had experienced difficulty with the day before.
The juvenile’s brave attempts to conquer the log ultimately ended in a SPLASH. She swam over to the Stump and seemed to be debating whether she wanted to jump on when she decided to move along.
Another pelican posed on the Shore Log.
Part 2 will be up soon, with more flapping and another fight.