The Beautiful and Whacky Pelicans of Padre Island

On a morning that Gail had a two hour conference call, I had some time to kill. Instinctively, I grabbed my camera and went for a walk. A half block later, I found the Pelicans of Padre Island and all the entertainment I needed for a while.

Walking along a pier on the bay side of the island, I encountered a pod of pelicans. The group was starting the day perched at the boat docks. As I walked towards them, I was worried they might start squawking, or worse fly off. I walked slowly and deliberately looking for a place to sit and watch them.

I spotted a bench on the pier that was reasonably close and sat still for a while. Before long, I got up and continued to walk closer to them. They did not seem too worried about me in the least, but I didn’t want to push my luck. When I felt like I was in an excellent position, I swung my camera and it’s zoom lens up to my face and started clicking photographs.

I quickly realized that I had stumbled upon a place where I could easily capture the Pelicans and their unique personalities.

Often when taking images of wildlife, a photographer only has seconds to focus and shoot. Lucky for me, these birds were lined up begging me to capture their antics.

Pelicans in Flight

As I sat there watching the birds, I began to understand they were busy fishing. Randomly, a Pelican would lift its wings and take off to the water behind them. Other birds that already had captured their breakfast were flying towards me to land effortlessly on the wooden structural posts that support the boat docks.

The birds in flight were more difficult to photograph but the morning light was perfect and I just kept clicking frames. Each time I completed a segment capturing one of the Pelicans, I checked my images to see if my camera settings looked good.

Yes! The awkwardly beautiful birds provided me ample opportunities to catch them at their best.

The pelicans of Padre Island were just the recipe I needed to kill a couple hours productively. Among this group of creatures, I observed birds of comedy, of bullies and everything in between. Maybe in the final analysis and at the most basic level, they are not that much different than humans.

For other wildlife stories, check out our blog post on the Wild Horses of the Missouri Ozarks.

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