photo of the week

Let's Get Outta Here.

I caught these pelicans in Saracen Lake a little off guard.  They normally do not let a human get this close.  As I approached their watery roost just off the Saracen Landing pavilion in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, they were swimming around the north end, which meant that I could use the south end as an approach.  From that direction they would not see me soon enough to do their exit, so I was able to squeeze off a few shots.  Members of a small splinter group separated from the main flock, they eyed me curiously as they got underway.  Their most neurotic member took to wings, saying, “I’m outta here.”


Sunday, December 8, 2013
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Here in LA (lower Arkansas) we are experiencing a blast of winter weather atypical for the locale.  We’ve had a few days of blustery winds, subfreezing temperatures, and frozen precipitation — all of which throws the average denizen of LA into panic.

Schools close, meetings are cancelled (perhaps a benefit), shops shutter their doors, and the courthouse suspends civic business.  Now, all of those people suddenly have nothing to do — so they head to the supermarkets, strip the shelves of bread, empty the dairy cases of milk, and gather-up an array of other items they deem necessary for survival in these imagined artic isolation terrors.

The frenzy breaks out in conditions that our brethren and sisters up north would consider a balmy winter day.  Hmm, let’s see….  It's too dangerous to drive to work, but driving to the store is OK — and store employees are exempt from winter fantasies.  Go figure.

The pelicans who pay us a visit in the winter months are not that easily fooled.  They go about their business, swimming around the lake and doing their pelican thing.  If they get a bit chilly, they will sally on over to the pelican huddle and stay awhile.  Once warmed, they will individually return to the lake and do pelican puttering about.

The upshot is, the lakeshores are relatively free of onlookers because all the rest of the people are at the store, giving curious photographers a golden opportunity to record callous pelican disregard for alleged threatening conditions.

a wary eye from the pelicans

Wary Eye of the Pelican

A couple of pelicans from the first group finally break away.  They do not like my looks.

Striking a Pose

Striking a Pose

Normally, pelicans turn tail and go into their turbo mode to escape photographic capture.  This group was kind enough to swing around and give us some decent profile shots.  Sometimes you just get lucky.

a flock of 'em

Neighborhood Warming Station

The cagey pelicans keep a neighborhood warming station in operation.  It appears that when they get a bit chilly, they join the group to share feathery warmth and pelican banter.  When they are individually warm enough or get tired of hearing the same gossip or jokes, they head back into the lake.  Repeat if necessary.

Again, Mother Nature’s creatures teach us a lesson.  But apparently we never learn.

Photo Notes

Nikon D7100, AF VR – Nikkor 80-400 f4.5-5.6, ISO 100, all. Top picture, 1/400 @ f4.5; second picture, 1/400 @ f4.8; third picture, 1/320 @ f5.3, fourth picture, 1/160 @ f5.6. Post processed with Adobe Photoshop® CC.


see more
See more pelicans at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
Why not?
It’s cold outside
and you can benefit
from observing these magnificent creatures
doing what they do best:  Swimming away from me.

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