We’ve been in Puerto Vallarta two weeks now, and I decided it’s time to start some posts again. This is a day in the life of a couple of pelican watchers. The first two days here we were privileged to stay with friends at their condo by the marina. Waking up and having breakfast on the patio, watching the sun come up, is magnificent. Gradually the forms take shape and detail; the light from the sun starts to paint colours on the sky, the clouds, the water, the trees and all the man-made objects around us.
We just sit, watch and marvel.
But today is about my favourite bird, the pelican. It’s very common here, but hey, what’s wrong with common? The pelicans at home are the large white variety, but here in Mexico we see the slightly smaller brown ones. The behaviour of the browns is very different from the whites, so we have spent hours just walking, sitting and observing them.
How could anyone tire of watching these graceful birds gliding so effortless in the sky as they watch for an opportunity to eat.
We arrived at the new pier in PV (Puerto Vallarta), a lovely new structure which provides a great place to sit and watch the ocean activities and makes it much easier to clamber into the water taxis that take you to Yelapa.
There are always fisherman here catching and cleaning their catch. Where there are fishermen, there are pelicans! This one just glided under the pier heading towards a fisherman and his boat.
Just look at the control and grace of this landing.
Safely down this pelican is now ready to join his colleagues waiting for a share of the fisherman’s harvest.
But the pelicans life is not one of just mooching off the fisherman. They fly over the water continually watching for something to catch. The brown pelicans use a different technique than the whites. The whites tend to swim against the current and catch their lunch in their large pouch under the bill. Sometimes they will fish cooperatively forming a circle around a shoal of fish and gradually closing in and scooping them up.
The browns on the other hand, at least here in February, use a diving technique,
They fly fairly high above the water watching, then when they spot their prey, they collapse their wings and plummet down, often twisting and spinning as they drop.
They continue dropping and correcting their angle of attack,
they enter the water with quite a splash, stunning the prey with a blow from their bills and then scooping up the stunned fish – if they hit it and if they can find it. But watch out for the Magnificent Frigate Birds, they will sometimes swoop down and grab the fish before the pelican has got its bearings.
All this flying, hunting, swooping, swimming and eating must be tiring. It was such a surprise to notice that the pelicans here roost in trees over a river. Egrets share the tree. When the pelicans arrive on the branches they sometimes bend and dip alarmingly, but our webbed footed friends are able to land securely and spend the night in safety away from predators; and frankly a bit far away for a decent shot from my 300mm zoom. Are you detecting a theme here? Is it obvious that Rod is just a tad envious of Andrew’s equipment (photographic that is). There may need to be some serious saving up to be done!
What a perfect place. This is the end of this other Pelican Brief.
And so the day ends with the sun setting over the Malecon in PV.
Susan and I give thanks for our time here and for all the wonders of nature that we need so desperately to protect from our ruinous ideas about growth and development.