Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pelicans and Stuff

The world is divided into people who commune with birds and people who don't. I am one of those who don't. This though is the cause of this essay, an osprey who passed overhead with lunch in his talons.Winter is when pelicans return to the Keys and they have been quite visible. I saw the osprey with the fish, and as I waited for Cheyenne to get her breath back I played with my little pocket camera, taking pictures of the only things I could see: birds.
Oh, and an airplane. I know about as much about planes as I do about birds.It was windy and the pelicans seemed to enjoy being aloft. They would squat down on the water and let the current carry them back. Then, when they had gone as far as they cared to they flapped up into the air and rode the currents back up wind. It looked like fine.I can't remember why but I did once hold a pelican and i was shocked by how light the big beefy bird was. It's like holding a feathery helium balloon.
I suppose they have to be light otherwise they couldn't fly, but actually holding a creature with hollow bones is a surprising experience. So much so I still remember how it felt though I can't remember how the experience came about.I like dogs apropos of nothing in particular but some people bond with birds. I remember a colleague years ago who took the day off she was so distraught her pet bird had died after a long life. On the surface we were quite surprised- a bird? But really a pet is a pet.This is one of those situations where a pocket camera is not much good and where a single lens reflex would be handy. The delay in the shutter opening usually doesn't bother me as most of my pictures are fairly static. But with birds flying around I had tot ake dozens to get a handful of half way passable pictures.I had lots of time to take pictures and mull over which ones to keep and which to delete. Cheyenne was in no hurry.r=0>The fence got inthe way on this one and at first I was going to discard it. Then I thought...why?This pelican flopped into the water and I saw a brief but epic struggle as the bird overcame lunch and swallowed. I wondered what it must feel like to be eaten alive.
Burp! And off for more happy hunting.One has to wonder if it really is a contemplative life for these birds.
On the water or in the air they look so thoughtful.
Above all the human busyness below they are barely visible dots.
Those three were hanging together soaring and dipping back and forth in formation. This next one was doing the solitary thing overhead.This is their range. On mature reflection it may not be such a bad life to be a pelican.