A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
~Dixon Lanier Merritt
In our modern lives we live in urban areas near to cities or our place of work. These are mostly built up, busy areas full of bustling commuters – and then suddenly you are given a rare glimpse of the wildlife that share this suburban bliss with you.
We are lucky enough to live near a wetland which is full of waterfowl, otters, flamingoes and the enormous great white pelican. Seen from afar it is hard to imagine just how large these birds are, but up close it is a different story entirely.
We had a visit from one of these behemoths, who fancied our goldfish in our fishpond. Imagine the shock when you are sitting in the house and hear the flap of wings and look out into the garden, in time to see a bird so big that its eye is on the same level as yours? Absolutely mind-bending! Luckily the goldfish were saved when the visitor saw us and decided to move on. This was a very special moment.
We have seen them in the wetland, ganging up on the fish by herding them into the shallows and then taking turns to dip their heads under the water and swallowing the fish they scoop up. They seem to be these huge birds from another world, at times ungainly and at other times incredibly light as they almost seem to be ballerinas as they dip under the water with wings and tails in the air.
I love seeing them and think I count them among my favourite birds.