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Published: January 4th 2021
FACES OF PELICANS
"A wonderful bird is a pelican His bill will hold more than his belican. He can take in his beak Food enough for a week, But I'm damned if I see how the helican."
I understand Dixon Lanier Merritt penned this as a limerick in 1910.
It was later published in 1940 by the American poet Ogden Nash, best known for his humorous rhyming verse, in his "The Face is Familiar" collection and thus often attributed to Nash in error.
Thanks to Britta for the Dixon Lanier Merritt limerick or poem that so delightfully presents them.
A wonderful bird is a Pelican...may my photos in my 'Faces of Pelicans' do them justice...'cos otherwise...I dunna know how the helican.
We have just returned from Lake Macquarie on the Central Coast of New South Wales after spending 5 days for Christmas 2020 with Denise's extended family who all live around there during which time I took over 500 photos of Pelicans...over the top even for me.
I was blown away by the diversity of their poses, contortions and angles.
This was not my first foray with these most magnificent of birds living as we do onto Berowra Valley National Park and
the waterways of Northern Sydney...but definitely the most rewarding.
I knew them as those prehistoric throwbacks with pouched beaks that would glide in over water like cruise missiles then land and strut, short legged, pudgy, sword-beaked gents on patrol.
Or glide into a jetty like torpedoes in the event of a quick feed then glide away disinterestedly with an air of "That's not why we've come".
Last September we had several days in river only access accom at Milson's Passage on the Hawkesbury River...a Pelican endlessly grooming on a jetty pole...a ballerina preparing for a recital but never called to the stage...flying off after the curtain had fallen...dreaming of being called to dance another day.
My interest was piqued as we drove north past Croudace Bay on Christmas Day...a flash of a Pelican with its wings spread like a preacher gathering his flock...but I dare not ask Denise to stop.
The image did not fade...I still have it...a moment lost...repeat performance unlikely.
But where there is a will there is a way, I often say. If I dream hard enough I may be lucky.
So I vow to return...at 4:30pm the following day
as storm clouds hovered...I did just that.
I park Den's car and see some penguins at the tip of a small isthmus to the south...one with its winds spread...bit of a walk to get there...brisk wind in my face.
A woman up real close with a long lens at her face...soon departing so this dancer can take her place...all eyes on the biggest one awaiting his wings to spread to display his grace.
But two hours later I depart with many pics but without so much as a wink or a smile from the big fella...drops of rain indicating the money shot is not for me this darkening day.
I wander the bristling shore on my way back to the car...over a wooden bridge...a flash of white...an Eastern Great Egret stalking the tea-tree stained water...a flock of Black Swans in the next baylet...raindrops more frequent...dusk settling...time to go.
I return at 2:30pm the following day...no breeze or pelicans or other birds in the bay in sight...revellers walking dogs...nothing to see here...back to family time the reason we are up here.
Day 4 is blowing a gale so Denise and her sister go to Redhead
Beach to brave choppy waves and blowing sand.
I head off to Croudace Bay before also heading to the beach...to see if Pelicans are there to play.
A Wattlebird on a Banksia flower...the perfect shot but I linger too long so it flies away...gotta learn birds are often harder to train than insects or young children.
Where there is a gale blowing kitesurfers are playing...the one with the green sail jumping...the one with the black sail lifting off...upside down up to 50 metres up...flying heavenward...landing perfectly on water after a sensational arc...me wondering what would happen if he misjudged his flight and landed on the hard shore...racing deep into the lake to return over and over showing he is an ace...me wondering how often is the wind this strong that he can pursue such tricks.
I return later that evening and my friends are back...same spot on the tip of the small isthmus...awaiting me no doubt...two Black Swans chatting then swimming away.
But rather than all eyes on the big fella...a small dancer struts into the fold...shaking his booty as he floats along...rolling in the shallow water then standing and opening his wings over and
over and over again.
I adjust my position so he adjusts his...face on...centre stage...a rising star...some swimming away diving like sea serpents...the big fella shown up...shuffling away.
Then even the Star swims away...one last bow...the isthmus now empty...just Seagulls in the bleachers braying...the Pelicans emerging and surrounding a barbeque further up.
I can't take that shot...Pelicans are not Bin Chickens...or at least for my memories they are not.
I prefer the dances we enjoyed...prefer to think they were enjoying my company instead of wondering if they only did so in the hope of a free feed.
Living among Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson & Eastern Rosellas, Sulphur Crested & Black Cockatoos, Noisy Minors, Kookaburras and King Parrots as we do...well aware birds' motives are somewhat self-serving when Denise holds out her hand...birds gathering expectantly as she may often do.
Relax & Enjoy,
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