Isolation Antidotes (44): High Fliers and High Hopes

Eleven years ago on this date I was in Chile on a work assignment and, with a colleague, stopped at a restaurant in the city of Concón in Valparaíso Province. When we had ordered our meals, I wandered to a deck outside to see what the vantage point had to offer, and was rewarded with the glorious sight of several groups of pelicans soaring in to land. I have loved the sight of pelicans in flight since I first saw them as a teenager during a family trip to Florida—so ungainly on land but so elegant in the air. They were coming in to the bay to compete with the gulls for the generous remains of fish that had been cleaned by the kitchen staff of a neighboring restaurant. I will never forget this one pelican that had managed to grab an especially challenging morsel and tried to try to figure out a way to swallow it. I can’t say if it ever did, though I watched it try for at least five minutes. Considering the size and prickliness of its catch, I admit that I rather hope it gave up and decided to go for something smaller, as it’s very difficult to imagine how its digestive tract would have reacted to the seemingly-insurmountable (and potentially-disastrous) task.

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Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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16 Responses to Isolation Antidotes (44): High Fliers and High Hopes

  1. Mike Powell says:

    I love pelicans, though we don’t have them in our area. That last image is especially wonderful–it tells a story all by itself, even though we don’t know how the story ended.

  2. Time to bring out Dixon Lanier Merritt’s limerick:

    “A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
    His beak can hold more than his belly can.
    He can hold in his beak
    Enough food for a week!
    But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican?”

  3. I really like that last shot, Gary! They must be really tough old birds!

    • krikitarts says:

      They are indeed. I’ve made many sojourns to Florida (my parents lived there for many years after retirement), and I’ve seen them swallow some impressive fish, but I think this one was way too optimistic.

  4. Such marvellous birds and shots! I wonder how that last pelican made out. 😏

    • krikitarts says:

      I’ve been wondering that ever since. I once saw an unforgettable photo sequence of a huge African crocodile that had swallowed a large porcupine and, of course, died. I’m quite confident that this pelican reconsidered its plan and lowered its sights.

  5. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful pictures – as you say, ungainly on land but elegant in the air. :)

  6. Great images, Gary. I was going to quote the poem if Steve had not beaten me to it. Love the flight shot.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks again, Steve, so do I. I could watch pelicans soaring for hours. One is certainly a treat, but when two or three (or more) do it in unison, it’s absolutely enthralling.

  7. shoreacres says:

    I’ve written about a near-by town called Seabrook, which has a multitude of fiberglass pelicans as civic decoration. There’s a doctor-pelican, an astronaut-pelican, and so on. We have so many real pelicans around, it makes sense; they’re wonderful birds, and it seems that everyone enjoys them. You’re right that their flight often seems choreographed.

    Do you remember Edward Lear’s “Pelicans’ Chorus”? It’s as wonderful as Merritt’s ditty:

    “We live on the Nile. The Nile we love.
    By night we sleep on the cliffs above;
    By day we fish, and at eve we stand
    On long bare islands of yellow sand.
    And when the sun sinks slowly down
    And the great rock walls grow dark and brown,
    Where the purple river rolls fast and dim
    And the Ivory Ibis starlike skim,
    Wing to wing we dance around,
    Stamping our feet with a flumpy sound,
    Opening our mouths as Pelicans ought,
    And this is the song we nighly snort:

    Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
    We think no Birds so happy as we!
    Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
    We think so then, and we thought so still!”

    • krikitarts says:

      I can’t remember it, for the simple reason that I’ve never encountered it before. Yet another advantage of having a such a scholar as a friend and colleague. This is simply delightful. I’ve not been to Egypt (the closest I’ve come was Israel) but I’m not surprised to learn that there are pelicans there. In fact, I see that the pelican was associated, in ancient Egypt, with death and the afterlife, and that henet (pelican in Egyptian) was also referred to, in the Egyptian texts, as the “mother of the king,” and was thus seen as a goddess.

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