I was recently contacted by a fellow from outside the country who would like to visit La Jolla to photograph, among other things, California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus), but was concerned about access to the bluff where these birds are best photographed. Since I had not been down to La Jolla for a while I decided to get out between storms and take a look. (We had a week-long rain end just 2 days ago, and another rain is due to arrive tomorrow.) I got up early this morning, looked out the window, saw the sky conditions were ideal, threw my gear in my car and got down there. There is no problem (as far as I can tell) about accessing the bluff area and photographing the pelicans as usual. There is a fence and a deck of course (both of which were built a few years ago) but no signage indicating that going beyond the fence is a problem. The signs simply warn about the dangers of falling off the bluff which, frankly, are self-evident. Special thanks to the city’s lawyers who insist on clarifying the obvious.
The pelicans have a ways to go until they reach peak plumage. I was able to find a few that had it all together — red and olive throat, yellow head and dark chestnut hind neck — but most birds were still in transition in some way. Here are some photos from this morning, all shot with a Canon 1Ds III and 300 f/2.8 with 1.4x converter.
For more info see a Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.
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