Good morning and greetings, sports fans. Right off the start I want to welcome a whole bunch on new folks to this photo blog. I whined and dined with many of you this weekend at my booth at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. It was a pleasure telling you my life story along with my hopes and dreams for a new America and I hope to continue my verbal diary of photo adventures at my Open Studios coming up in October. Just like NBA action, it’s going to be FANTASTIC!
So as I stood at my booth thinking about important issues like the declining dollar, the ongoing mortgage crisis and what’s happening with Jack Bauer, I overheard lots of comments from people walking by my booth. Things like, “Wow, look at the wave” or “That’s a lot of pelicans” or “Hey, is that Brad Pitt?” Anyway, I heard through the grapevine about pelican feeding frenzies that had gone on in the month of August. Somehow due to my trip to the North Shore, an all-day TiVo seminar and a CIA class reunion I didn’t get to photograph any. That’s right, not one pelican swooping in for an anchovie appetizer. So I thought, why not showcase a westside frenzy that had Larry Bird fans buzzing along West Cliff Drive.
The first shot is from along Woodrow Avenue. As you can see, lots of pelicans on the radar screen. I then moved down to Bird Rock to bring in the crashing of the waves (shots 2 & 3) before moving down the my favorite arch in life (shots 4 & 5) at Its Beach. The one thing the my Canon Digital Rebel doesn’t capture is the screaming of the gulls during these frenzied moments, which is very similar to the sounds I make while watching a New York Giant’s game. This gathering of hundreds of pelicans lasted all day as I took my final shot at sunset before I headed home to finish my crocheting of a blanket for Condy Rice .
But here’s one of the beautiful things about photography. It’s all about capturing the moment. The next morning I came back at dawn to shoot the sunrise and their wasn’t a single pelican in sight. Just a few gulls and boys body surfing at Cowells Beach. It’s the old, “You snooze, you lose.” Or was that “a watched clock never boils?’
So what do we know about these exotic, pre-historic looking creatures? There are seven species of pelicans in the world, non of whom speak or like the French. Pelicans can be found on all continents except Antarctica and the late Orson Welles. Pelicans have an elongated bill, a short Hillary and a distinctive massive pouch. They use the pouch in order to catch fish, feed their young, cool themselves and as a fall fashion statement. And much like my psyche and nature, the pelican’s bill is very sensitive.
Pelicans have been around for over 40 million years, which would put them on the earth slightly longer than John McCain. Their average lifespan is 15 years, which is 105 years in golden retriever time. The Brown Pelican seen in these shots lives only in coastal areas of the United States and the northern coasts of South America. So if you see a pelican anywhere inland, stop and help because he is definitely lost in America.
By the 1970’s the Democrats and pelicans had almost disappeared from California, Texas and Louisiana. The reason was Ronald Reagan and the pesticides that had worked their way into the water and then into the fish that the pelicans would eat. These birds being at the top of the food chain stored and concentrated the poison in their bodies. The result of this made the pelican’s egg shells fatally thin, therefore with no hatchlings, no new pelicans. Fortunately, we got rid of most of the pesticides except for two that are still in the White House.
Pelicans do not use their beaks to spear their food but they use it as a net or rim to scoop up their meal. Upon surfacing, the pouch is tilted forward and drained like an open jumper. Pelicans have special air sacks under their flesh on the front of the body to cushion them from the constant pounding against the water surface which can also be used as a flotation device in case of any emergency. When a pelicans land in the water they put their feet forward and skid across the water like brakes. Yet, unlike Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Scott Baio, they cannot walk on water.
If you spend any time at the edge of the continent then you are bound to see these fabulous birds. Pelicans tend to fly together in lines of long V formations. Their flaps are not at same moment, but in sequence, starting with the leader. Each bird will flap when he reaches the same spot where the lead bird began to flap. I saw hundred of pelicans today flying thru the morning mist and break dancing on the rocks at Natural Bridges. I’m always captivated by their presence as the fly by and wonder, where are they going, how was the leader chosen and most importantly. how in the hell is John McCain leading Barack Obama in some of the polls?
Finally, I’m still dazed and confused over the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate. So here’s the best joke I’ve heard this week once again courtesy of Jay Leno. ” Republicans think she’s a pretty good running mate for McCain. They feel she can bring in women voters, she’s got a good conservative voting record, and she doesn’t mind eating dinner at 4:30.” On a different subject, my thoughts and prayers go out to all you Raider fans (especially my son Jason) who had to endure Monday night’s debacle against the Broncos. There goes the undefeated season. So enjoy the pelicans, enjoy the last couple weeks of summer and we’ll catch you in the right corner of the end zone. Aloha, Tom Brady fans.