The great arrival

With overcast skies, a slight breeze, and warm temperatures, I could not help taking a walk at the lake this morning.  Promises of hard freezes and wintry precipitation later in the week also will spurn me to visit the wildlife refuge, but this morning’s excursion was more to relieve stress than it was anything else.  Yet I still found time to capture some videos and photographs while I attempted to lose myself in nature.

Standing near the shore behind one of the local piers, I watched with awe-filled eyes the arrival of hundreds of American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos).  I had already photographed and videoed several on a nearby log as they preened and perched under gray skies in dim morning light.  But watching the air above the water’s surface fill with these large birds as they glided in for web-footed landings made for a fascinating diversion.  I do not know why so many of them began congregating at the same time where only a dozen or so had been before.  I do know it offered a captivating scene.

The video below was made in haste only after I had watched for several minutes the inbound squadrons joining the growing raft on the lake.  I apologize in advance for the quality and the movement.  My focus remained on the event and the birds more than on producing a documentary nature film.  Despite its shortcomings, I think you will get at least some feel for what I witnessed.

A few notes.  Most of the birds you hear are ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) and herring gulls (Larus argentatus), and you also see many of them flying through the foreground of the video.  They were moving into the area en masse along with the pelicans.  I do not know what kind of ducks you hear occasionally in the background.  There are many species living at the lake and I know three or four were represented in the large group behind where I stood.  While I heard them as I stood there, you might not pick them out on the video, but the presence of several American coots (Fulica americana) behind me augmented the experience.  Because I had not planned for this video and only grabbed the camera after experiencing a V8 moment while I rested on the shore filling the time with a charismatic avian spectacle, I was unable to get clear shots of the pelican landings—the inbound glide, the jutted web-footed approach, the smooth slide along the water’s surface as natural landing gear slowed them, and the eventual sinking to comfortable floating positions.  I wish I had been able to grab some of that for you; it was enchanting to watch.

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