Category

Pelicans

La Jolla Pelicans

California, Pelicans

I went down to La Jolla last week to check out the brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus). There is a fence blocking access to the cliffs now, which is unfortunate and a real shame. When I was going to UCSD (many years ago) we would leap into the ocean from these same cliffs. Alas, no longer, thanks to politicians and/or lawyers who have decided they know what is best for us and the birds. Anyway, the pelicans are starting to change into their winter breeding colors. I saw quite a few sporting a red gular throat pouch, a good sign, but I did not see many with well-developed chestnut neck color yet. Probably in January.

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck.
Image ID: 23647
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20028
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 22142
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail.  Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican's beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail. Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican’s beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry.
Image ID: 22144
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican.  This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage with brown neck, yellow and white head and bright red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage with brown neck, yellow and white head and bright red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 22145
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more brown pelican photos.

Photo of a Brown Pelican Preening

California, La Jolla, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Here is a California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) preening. Using it’s long bill, the pelican spreads preen oil from its uropygial gland (near its tail) and spreads it over its wings and head. The preen oil helps to keep the feathers clean and dry. Check out the bird’s coloration, it is at the height of it’s breeding plumage with a bright red throat and chestnut brown hind neck.

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail.  Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican's beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry.  Note adult winter breeding plumage in display, with brown neck, red gular throat pouch and yellow and white head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail. Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican’s beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry. Note adult winter breeding plumage in display, with brown neck, red gular throat pouch and yellow and white head.
Image ID: 20295
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Photo of a Pelican in Flight

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Yet another photo of a pelican in flight. This California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is seen soaring over the cliffs looking for a place to land and preen in the warm sun.

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20294
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pelican Eye

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

This California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is resting and warming itself in the sun after a morning foraging at sea. Its head is pointed behind itself and nestled between its wings.

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Brown pelican closeup showing characteristic winter mating plumage, including yellow head, dark brown nape of neck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican closeup showing characteristic winter mating plumage, including yellow head, dark brown nape of neck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20154
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pelican Portraits

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

More photographs of the California race of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) from a recent morning in La Jolla, between storms. These show the bright red and olive colors that the large gular throat pouch takes on, as well as the dark brown hind neck and yellow head feathers, that are characteristic of breeding adults during winter months.

Check out our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20232
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20231
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, spreading its wings wide to slow before landing on cliffs overlooking the ocean.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight, spreading its wings wide to slow before landing on cliffs overlooking the ocean. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.
Image ID: 20229
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, spreading its wings wide to slow before landing on cliffs overlooking the ocean.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight, spreading its wings wide to slow before landing on cliffs overlooking the ocean. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.
Image ID: 20230
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Beautiful Morning in La Jolla

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

A morning dentist appointment in La Jolla meant a short visit beforehand to shoot pelicans before I submitted myself to my semi-annual tooth cleaning (no cavities). I met David Osborn, a wonderful photographer from England who is currently in California to shoot a variety of natural history subjects for a few weeks, and old diving pal Jim Campbell who came over from Coronado to shoot too. It was a perfect morning to be at the ocean’s edge in La Jolla: sunny, warm, clear and the ocean glassed off for miles.

Check out our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Brown pelican head throw, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20188
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelicans sparring with beaks, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelicans sparring with beaks, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults.
Image ID: 20195
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California brown pelican portrait, on sandstone cliffs above the ocean, showing winter breeding plumage with dark brown nape, red throat and yellow head.  Lit with flash, early morning before sunrise, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican portrait, on sandstone cliffs above the ocean, showing winter breeding plumage with dark brown nape, red throat and yellow head. Lit with flash, early morning before sunrise.
Image ID: 20191
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw, winter plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20200
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Mavericks … Not

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

The Mavericks Surf contest was held today. No, I did not shoot it, unfortunately. I took photos of pelicans instead, not quite the same but the best I could do under the circumstances. Check out our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Brown pelican closeup showing characteristic winter mating plumage, including yellow head, dark brown nape of neck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican closeup showing characteristic winter mating plumage, including yellow head, dark brown nape of neck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20154
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican raising its bill in a head throw to  stretch is throat.  Winter plumage, non-mating coloration, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican raising its bill in a head throw to stretch is throat. Winter plumage, non-mating coloration.
Image ID: 20155
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, resting on sandstone cliffs beside the sea, winter mating plumage with distinctive dark brown nape and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, resting on sandstone cliffs beside the sea, winter mating plumage with distinctive dark brown nape and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20157
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus, La Jolla, California

Double-crested cormorant.
Image ID: 20159
Species: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican spreads its huge wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican spreads its huge wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs.
Image ID: 20156
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, winter mating plumage with distinctive dark brown nape and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, winter mating plumage with distinctive dark brown nape and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20179
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican spreads its huge wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican spreads its huge wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs.
Image ID: 20164
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Overcast Day in La Jolla

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Check out our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

It looked beautiful out my front window this morning, so I headed off to La Jolla hoping for some sharp brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) flight shots. Not to be. The clouds had built up around Mt. Soledad by the time I got down there. I tried to salvage the morning with some blurred flight shots and got a couple of marginal keepers but the color of the light was weird (see shots below). What saved the morning from being a total loss was a small group of gregarious sea lions. Having been hauled out for a while most of them were a nice shade of blond (and dumb?).

Brown pelican in flight, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise.
Image ID: 20119
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California sea lions hauled out on rocks beside the ocean, Zalophus californianus, La Jolla

California sea lions hauled out on rocks beside the ocean.
Image ID: 20130
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20121
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Swirly Winds and Pelican Tips

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Photography, Wildlife

I got down to La Jolla again this morning. It looked clear when I left the house but when I checked the surf at Ponto it was bumpy so I decided no go on surf photos and went with the backup plan of birds for the second day in a row. I should have opened the car window, then I would have known how windy it was. Anyway, I get down to La Jolla, hop out of the car and my hair goes swirly, its really windy. I go to my favorite spot and watch all the birds looping around, riding the gusts and figuring out where to land. As the morning went on I saw Mike Wilson (whom I met a couple times last winter) as well as John Pelafigue again. I managed to get a few more good flight shots by handholding the 300. I ran into three more people who mentioned they had seen my blog comments on pelicans in La Jolla and found them helpful. So I’ve added a few more comments and and published them as a PDF file. Here it is:

Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched.  The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20083
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched.  The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20080
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Day After Christmas Sunrise Birds

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

I met photographer John Pelafigue this morning, a great guy from Humbolt whose website has some really fine images. I also bumped into Garry McCarthy whom I had not seen since bumping into him in La Jolla shooting birds a year ago. Like myself, Garry is an underwater photographer who has also taken up the curious habit of shooting photos on land. Its sad, really, when one gives up real photography for the less savory and more mundane terrestrial pursuit(cue: laugh). As far as my photography went, I had too much lens and my flight shots were pretty weak. I did get a couple pre-sunrise shots of of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) about 7am, some 30 minutes before the sun tops Mt. Soledad and lights the birds:

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults.  This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning.
Image ID: 20074
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican, non-breeding winter plumage.  This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, non-breeding winter plumage. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning.
Image ID: 20078
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA