Saturday Snapshot July 26: Serendipity

It has always been one of my favourite words, serendipity. But now, I love it even more.

While birding in the woods a few days ago, I saw in the not too distant sky a huge bird slowly gliding. I remember two words conjured up in my mind: mythical, and mystical. I was trying to decide which one was more apt to describe my sighting. It looked like a crane or maybe a swan; my imagination at that instant had just gone haywire with excitement.

She (or he) glided gracefully, lowering and finally landing somewhere, disappearing from my view. With my stalking instinct automatically kicked into overdrive, I made a 400 m. dash and lo and behold, found a little stormwater pond behind a grassy berm, a pond I was not aware of before.

What I saw was magical. Swimming slowly on the serene water was this calm and solitary Pelican, a huge contrast to the exuberant paparazzo nearby, huffing and puffing behind the bushes:

Pelican 1I watched her quietly … preening:

Preening

Gulping down her lunch. She dipped her beak into the water and came up with her prey. I could see the shape of a fish in her large pouch; the next second it was gone, swallowed up whole:

Fish Gulping

After some time, she suddenly decided to take off. The following sequence was probably the most rewarding for any nature paparazzo:

Taking off 1

Taking off 2

Taking off 3

Taking off 4

Taking off

Taking off 5

Taking off 6

I later found out that the American White Pelican is one of the largest birds in North America. Averaging about 16 pounds, but some grow to as large as 30 pounds. They are among the heaviest flying birds in the world. Their 9-foot wing span, snowy white body and contrasting black wing tip give them their majestic look and graceful flight in the sky. They are gregarious, hanging out in groups.

That’s why I love my serendipitous find even more, a solitary Pelican, quiet and serene, and not along the ocean shore, but right in my neck of the woods at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted. In addition, this is also a Weekend Reflections post. CLICK HERE to see other reflections.

All Photos on this post are taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, July, 2014.

DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG

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Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review.

59 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot July 26: Serendipity”

    1. Sharon,

      Thanks for visiting Ripple Effects and intro. me to Weekend Reflections. I just included my link there. A beautiful collection. Hope to hear from you again. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  1. I love your serendipitous find, too, Arti! What terrific shots you pelican-stalker, you. And I just realized that I gulp fish about the same way as that beautiful bird. Yet another great bird-watching post!

    Like

  2. Arti, Your photos of the American white pelican are fantastic, i love nature and discovering little moments like these. Yes, they are gregarious and often swim/ (tred water) in a semi-circle moving towards shore — pushing the fish in a lake to the shallower edge for better “group feeding” — clever! you caught a moment of serenity.

    Like

    1. Heather,

      Amazing isn’t it that I saw a solitary one, and thoroughly enjoying herself too. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and kind words. πŸ˜‰

      Like

    1. Ellen,

      I’m sure you must have seen a lot of Pelicans in your neck of the woods. Hope I can get to see some shorebirds on your blog… after the England journals maybe? πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. Shari,

      I was just in the right place at the right time. And with my camera just set to ‘sports auto’. That’s how I got the taking off sequence.

      Like

  3. Okay, this is a stupid comment, but…even though I know she’s a pelican, the beautiful pictures remind me of a swan. It’s how I envisioned Louis from E. B. White’s The Trumpet of The Swan, a book I dearly love. They are majestic birds, in either case.

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    1. Bellezza,

      To some people, the Pelican isn’t an attractive bird at all. But for me, it’s as beautiful as a swan. The main feature is the large pouch. Swans don’t have them and they may look more elegant. But this one is as close to a swan as I can find. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  4. How wonderful! These are winter birds for us. They arrive in late fall, and leave sometime in the spring — March, maybe. Or April. This winter I’ll try to make a point of getting a photo of our local crew, down at the waterfront. There’s a place where there are about fifty pilings sticking up, and it’s so funny to see one pelican per piling.

    There are cameras with sports auto settings? Wow! That’s really neat, and the photos are as good as any I’ve seen. Well, there are the pros who lug around lenses that cost as much as my car, but that’s a different story.

    Did you know white and brown pelicans feed differently? The white fish from the surface of the water, but the brown only dive. Interesting.

    Thanks for such great photos!

    Like

    1. Linda,

      Yes, there are many auto settings, like portrait, child, landscape, sport…etc. I usually just set at auto when birding because everything can happen very fast. And I won’t have time to adjust this and that. I rather trust my camera’s eyes than my own. Not very professional, but I’m cool with that, auto.

      This is not the first time I see a Pelican. But this is the closest to one I’ve ever got. And she seemed to be enjoying herself so I could get a lot of calm photos. Plus, the taking off is a bonus, icing on the cake. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  5. These are just GLORIOUS! How amazing, how beautiful, how divine. (And I love the paparazzo humour! If anyone one was destined to be the star attraction, it is this grand bird!).

    I’ve only seen pelicans in Florida when I was a kid and didn’t particularly care. This would have taken my breath away — and to do its whole bit for you — preening, eating, flying. That camera is astounding to get so many photos in rapid succession.

    Well, I’m impressed. And I hope you do something with these! Huge enlargements, a shutterfly book, note cards. I could see moo.com business cards for you with one or more of these images (Did you know at moo, if you order 50, you can get 50 images? I love that!).

    Really, don’t just keep these in your computer. They are stunning.

    Like

    1. Jeanie,

      Thanks for intro. me to moo. I’ll definitely check it out. But I’m glad I’ve had that first person experience. That’s already a treasure in my memory. Anyway, yes, you’re right. moo.com could well provide ways to share that moment. Also you’re right to say it’s a ‘grand bird’. Huge, I’d say. It was fascinating seeing it glide, slowly and gracefully, more spectacular than swimming on the pond and gulping down fish. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  6. Oh Arti, you’ve outdone yourself with this series of photos! Do you ever submit any of your work to competitions or anything? If not, you should serious consider it!

    Like

    1. Stefanie,

      You know, I never bother looking into competitions or just having my photos published but I’m always interested in photo journaling. I think it’s the writing part that makes it more gratifying than just snapping photos. πŸ˜‰

      Like

  7. Pelicans are a common sight here in the spring. I had rarely seen one outside Florida before I came here, so I share your awe and excitement. Sadly, I think I told you the story about the pelican another lady and I rescued from fisherman’s lines?

    Beautiful word, lovely photos. Thanks for the Saturday ‘moment’ on Monday!

    Like

    1. Michelle,

      A look at their habitat map will tell you that actually their migrating route is all over N. America. But for me seeing a solitary one so close by is something very special.
      I don’t quite recall your Pelican story. Do remind me if it’s ok for you to retell. πŸ˜‰

      Like

      1. Ontario is too far east for them, but I had no idea that they traveled so far north! Since moving west, I see them every spring.

        In the spring of 2013, I went down to a local lake (it’s more of a reservoir) and saw a pelican on the shore. I waited for him to fly away as I got closer. When he didn’t, I realized something was wrong. His feet were tangled in fishing line. The line cut deeply through his legs and one of the hooks was in his wing. I called wildlife rescue and after a struggle, they got this huge bird into a cage. They took him to their facility nearly an hour away. I followed up a couple weeks later only to learn he was too infected and didn’t survive.

        Like

        1. Oh that is just too sad, Michelle. Another human/nature clash. Hopefully the bad memory can be replaced by your seeing Pelicans arriving every spring to your area.

          Like

  8. Arti,

    Thanks for sharing this! There are pelicans living in the area where I live in HK. Simply amazing! I don’t know which breed they are though. I also came across them in Morocco. What a beautiful bird!

    D

    Like

    1. Bird-watching in Morocco? Wow that sounds wonderful. Wish I could be in some other countries photographing birds. Yes, the Pelican is huge and they fly so majestically. Are the Pelicans in HK all white like this one?

      Like

  9. I can feel your joy at this wonderful discovery. Pelicans are relatively common in Australia, but not all that common where I live- although they do fly over. When there’s inland rains and Lake Eyre floods somehow all the pelicans on the coast know and head inland for breeding! Extraordinary. And gorgeous too- you got some sensational shots- I especially love your takeoff sequence, and the feeding shot.

    Like

    1. Louise,

      Yes, I was turning and walking away, ready to call it a day and then I saw this huge, slow flying bird in the sky landing somewhere beyond. I was in the right place at the right time. Pure serendipity. And from looking at the photo of your Australian Pelican, they sure look different from ours. But that long beak distinguishes them all from other birds.

      Like

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