I spent a good portion of the day out taking pictures today, and found myself up at Little Talbot Island State Park. Walking north along the beach, I came across this pelican, who I think might have given new meaning to that phrase.
I first became curious about him when a group of 4 kids walking south along the beach got a little to close to him. He didn’t fly away, which was what I expected. He tried. He flapped mightily and ran down towards the ocean … but never quite got airborne. The tide was low, and he settled about halfway down the sand, where I started taking his picture. The kids, at that point, retreated and left us alone.
I shot a dozen or so frames of him, and walked on up the beach, thinking about how much effort he had put into getting away from those kids, with very little result. If I hadn’t intervened, well, I did see one of the kids with something poised to throw at him. That’s when I realized the entire first set of shots I’d taken of him had been with the camera set on manual, and the exposures were all wrong. One of the joys of digital photography is that I can fix them with software.
But, as I walked back south down the beach, he was still there. Closer to the water, and far less interested in my taking his picture than he had been earlier. I wasn’t deterred, and now the camera was set properly.
But as I walked along beside him, he practically laid down in the water and scooped up a fish, or something he’d seen in the water. This was when I really started thinking that, maybe, he didn’t have the energy to fly any longer. I’ve seen a lot of pelicans drop like a bomb out of the sky to pick up a fish. I’ve never seen one lie down in the shallows like this. It’s an interesting photo seen larger on Flickr, and he’s really a beautiful old man.
In any event, he finally had had enough of me, and turned to face me, spread his wings and flapped, I guess in an effort to make himself look bigger and chase me away. When that didn’t work, he actually flew at me, as my grandfather would have said, “like an old settin’ hen”.
The continuous fire on the camera worked perfectly, and I got some pretty spectacular shots of this old pelican trying to chase me away. At this point, I did finally retreat, and continued my way south along the beach back to the walkover. But I couldn’t … can’t … shake the image of the pelican on the beach. I don’t know that he’s in his last days. That’s strictly a guess on my part. I HAVE noticed that it’s certainly not as easy for ME to do things as it used to be. Sometimes just getting up in the morning is, if not difficult, less appealing. Prone is good, and while I enjoy my job, I’m going to make far more effort to take my vacation. And, when I get as near the end of my days as I think this guy is, I hope I can still spread my wings and crankily say, basically, “You kids get off my lawn!”. That’s what my friend the pelican was saying to me today.
All the pics are up on Flickr.