Saturday, October 31, 2015

For a Pelican Can... - 10/26-27/15

Or: ...But a Pecan Can't

These waning days before the gloom that is the fall and winter, which seems to be the norm here on the Central Oregon Coast, are ripe for adventure. Surprisingly, the skies have recently cleared somewhat and the sun has shone down on truly pleasant days...and we've tried to make the best of them.

Heading down south just to see what we could see...Haha, reminds me of a song my Dad used to sing a couple bars of from his Navy days..."I joined the Navy to see the world and what did I see? I saw the sea!!? 

We went to see the coast and what did we see? We saw the sea...and, in a stroke of serendipity, we were treated to the sight of a plethora of pelicans. And, really, among all the world's birds, the oddly shaped pelican stands out as one of the most comical looking. Until it begins skimming over the surface of the ocean...then it achieves a certain grace and beauty. 

But, bottom line, it's the comical aspect about these birds I appreciate most. I know, grow up!! Hahaha, someday, maybe.

And so I got this wild thought that with a bird as easy to have fun with as a pelican there must be some good limericks or poems out there about them.

Hahaha, love the Internet!! There were!! A couple, anyway. 

Ben Jones

Pecan-Pelican, feathery nuts
Pelican-Pecan, shells and guts
Could fly away, most likely shan't
For a pelican can but a pecan can't

And so it begins.

Oh, here's what we originally came to see...the Devils Punch Bowl...

Fun Facts: The Devils Punch Bowl State Natural Area is centered on a large bowl naturally carved in a rock headland which is partially open to the ocean. Waves enter the bowl and often violently chum, swirl and foam. And that's about it. No geysers or anything but, still, pretty cool. The bowl is thought to have been created when two caves carved by the ocean collapsed.

Outside the bowl, the surfing is great because of a nearby large offshore rock pinnacle named Gull Rock. Haha, sounds like an apt locale for a Hardy Boys Mystery. But it just helps out the surfers by funneling and concentrating waves along the shore here. You can see 'Gull Rock' in the picture below, just beyond The Devils Punch Bowl.

And, to put the maraschino cherry on top of this rocky sundae, whales migrate past the park, in season, and the park gives you a good panoramic view of the ocean which makes for some really good whale watching!!

So we oohed and ahhed over The Devils Punch Bowl and then we ambled down the path to the south where we came upon this terrific sight!! A large 'pouch' of pelicans.

Fun Fact: A group of pelicans are known by many collective (and colorful) nouns. A pile of pelicans are known as: a pod, brief, scoop, squadron and, my favorite cuz, well, just because, a pouch.

And here they are. 

Yeah, they're funny looking but, and you have to admit this, too, they also have a particular beauty about themselves as well.

And they do cut a fine figure when they're skimming over the waves.

And then, BANG!! We're right back to silly.

The Pelican
Lou Sasol

What a marvelous bird is the pelican,

His beak can hold more than his belly can!

He can hold in his beak,
enough fish for a week

But I'll be damned if I know how the hell he can!!

Hahaha, I mean, c'mon!! Look at that mouth and that throat pouch!!

Watch out!! Coming in hot!!

Fun Facts: Though they have an awkward gait on land, comical, really, Brown Pelicans are powerful swimmers and masterful fliers. They fly to frothier fishing grounds in V-formations or lines just above the water's surface. They, and the closely related Peruvian Pelican (great name, eh!?!), are the only pelican species to perform spectacular head-first dives (typically ending in a huge splash visible from far away) to trap fish.

The Three Wise Pelicans

Fun Facts: Brown Pelicans mostly eat small fish found in schools near the surface of the water. A foraging pelican spots a fish from the air and dives head-first from as high as 65 feet over the water, tucking and twisting to the left to protect its trachea and esophagus from the impact. As it plunges into the water, its throat pouch expands to trap the fish, filling with up to 2.6 gallons of water....think of an average flush of your toilet.

The Beak of the Pelican
J. Patrick Lewis

She looks for wiggly fishes
At least so it appears,
To stuff inside the suitcase
That's swinging from her ears.

And though she's very graceful
When flying round and round,
How does she get that face full
Of luggage off the ground?

And a little pelican-relief!! 

We also saw these Black Oystercatchers...

Fun Facts: The Black Oystercatcher ranges from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to the coast of Baja California. Although it is not considered threatened, its global population size is estimated between 8,900-11,000 individuals. The Black Oystercatcher is a species of high conservation concern throughout its range.

Another scoop of Pelicans. There is an immature pelican to the right near the top. You can tell because immature Brown Pelicans are gray-brown above (including the head and neck) with pale whitish belly and breast.

Dinosaur Thriving
Diane Locksley

The pelican shape

Looks like a pteradactyl...

    A genetic mate?

And, even though it is the end of October and it is getting chilly, the surfers were out. Wearing wet suits but, c'mon, really!?!

I tried surfing once. Nearly drowned. Long story, but I went out, lost my board and barely made it back to shore. 

The Pelican
John W. Fenn

The Pelican, the Pelican
Can he catch fish
Yeah, hell he can
For a silly bird
Who looks absurd
It's surprising 
Just how well he can

A small brief of Pelicans.

Fun Facts: They do look like birds from a prehistoric time, don't they!?! Truth is, they are precisely that. These birds are believed to have appeared 100 Ma ago, during the dinosaur era. They may have reached their peak of diversity 65-57 Ma ago, when about 57 species roamed the Earth. Today, only 8 species of pelicans can be found around the world.

Sight of the Pelican
Mike Noonan

There's something about a pelican
That makes me just want to smile again.

Is it the large and unsightly pouch
Or the way they seem to slouch.

Or could it be their long neck span
That makes such a sight as the pelican. 

A quick view of the road leading down to The Devils Punch Bowl. They have a seasonal Mo's here. Mo's is the Oregon version of Washington's Ivar's Seafood Restaurant and Chowder house except they're not as good. They run a small restaurant here that is only open during the summer months...for the tourist trade. And there is  a separate gift shop and wine store here, too.

Plus, they have some starlings.

I'm a European Starling
Marvin D. Goldfarb

i'm a european starling
i'm now an american darling
from two eggs hatched at the 1898 worlds fair
came us birds who are now...everywhere

Fun Facts: There appears to be some confusion as to how starlings were introduced to America. I like this one...All the European Starlings in North American are descended from the 100 birds set loose in New York's Central Park in the early 1890s. The birds were intentionally released by a group who wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned. It took several tries, but eventually the population took off. Today, more than 200 million European Starlings range from Alaska to Mexico...and, Shakespeare aside, many consider them pests.

European Starlings are now among the continent's most numerous songbirds. They're stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed beaks. They are dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer.

That's the Mo's to the far left and then, the brown building, that's the Gift Shop and Winery. Local wines, too.

After we left, we stopped at Depoe Bay on the way home. 

Here it is, the World's Smallest Harbor!!

And that's about all there is of it.

Oh, and the Coast Guard Station.

Now that's all there is to it. The town is just a tourist haunt. Candy stores and gift shops. Not much to it but it does have a great view and is one of the favorite places to watch for whales.

Here it is. It's pretty much like this for the two or three blocks that the town runs.

And, to my delight, we found this place!!

O'Downey's Irish Pub!!

Woo, woo!! and we were going to go in, too. You see, they serve Smithwick's and I've been a-hankering for a Smithwick's for a while now. Alas, it was not to be. The doggone place doesn't open until 1400 and we were there, at the door, at 1311.

We'll be back. 

So we were motoring out of Depoe Bay and, BAM!! We spotted yet another pod of Pelicans on a rock outcropping just on the edge of the town. Pelicans and cormorants. 

But, we'd seen enough of the ungainly waterfowl and so we packed it up and headed back.

OK, moving on with this Most Excellent forward to Tuesday.

We headed back to where we were the day before. I mean, c'mon, who wouldn't want to go back and see all those pelicans!?! Hahaha, not me, obviously!!

But when we got was just gulls and a couple of cormorants.


But we did get a view of the Yaquina Head Light. 

Oh, and it was a gloomy, overcast day with a lot of morning mist.

But while we didn't see any pelicans...nary a one after seeing hundreds here the day before...we did see lots of whales. 

I mean, I've been out looking for some sign of whales before and, well, I am too impatient to be a good whale watcher. But today!! Today was different!! It was easy!! Like shooting Nerds in a barrel.

Hahaha, I was seeing them and then, amazingly, I got some pictures of them. This was great. I've usually always got my camera up...just as the whale went down. But this time, I got some pictures of their blows and...

I even got a couple with the whale...visible!!

Hahaha, I was rocking!!

But, still, we didn't get to see any pelicans. Well, we were out and, because I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion and, having seen the lighthouse earlier, I got the bright idea to, since we were in the area, stopping by the lighthouse.

And here may I say a word of sincere thanks to the people of America through their agents, the U.S. Park Service, for giving me a pass that allows me to enter Federal Parks without having to pay a fee. I really do appreciate that. Thank you.

And so we drove on over to the lighthouse. Where, on a whim, we decided to go down to the grotto first and, when we got there, it was chockfull of pelicans!! The pelicans were all on some rock outcroppings to the left in this picture. The lighthouse is in front and just behind the rise on the headland.

Hahaha, all they'd done was move on down the coast a couple miles.

Here's Carol's favorite pelican. 

Fun Facts: Highly social all year, pelicans breed in colonies of up to several thousand pairs - usually on small islands where they're not bothered by terrestrial predators. The male defends a nest site and perches there for up to three weeks until he attracts a mate. They remain monogamous throughout the breeding season. 

The parents incubate their eggs with their feet. If disturbed suddenly they fly away in a rush sometimes crushing their eggs as they lift off. Pelicans regurgitate predigested fish onto the nest floor for their nestlings, later switching to whole fish once the young are big enough. The young can fly and fend for themselves after three months, but take 3-5 years of age to reach sexual maturity.

OK, take a moment...there is some beauty there. Keep looking!!

More Fun Facts: On the Pacific Coast, Brown Pelican adults have red skin on their throats in the breeding season. On the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Brown Pelicans are slightly smaller and their throat skin is greenish black.

Even More Fun Facts: Brown Pelicans are a living symbol of how successful wildlife conservation can be. They nearly disappeared from North America between the late 1950s and the early 1970s because of pesticides entering the food chain. The pesticide killed pelicans outright, while DDT contamination led to thin-shelled eggs that broke under the weight of the parents. In 1970, Brown Pelicans were federally listed as endangered. The plight of pelicans and other species led to a ban on DDT in 1972 and a reduction in enduring use, allowing pelican numbers to rise. By 1985, numbers along the Atlantic and eastern Gulf Coasts had recovered enough to delist those populations.

"A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into a bar. 

The bartender looks at them and says, 'What is this? A joke!?!'"


"Shut up, Carl!!"

"Man, I hate that Carl."

Then, in the grotto, we saw this guy, a Harlequin Duck.

Fun Duck Facts: The Harlequin Duck is a small sea duck. It gets its name from Harlequin, a colorfully dressed character in Commedia dell'arte. 

In North America, it is also known as lords and ladies. Other names include painted duck, totem pole duck, rock duck, glacier duck, mountain duck, white-eyed diver, squeaker and blue streak. I don't know, but he might hold the record for the most aliases.

He's a kick to look at, isn't he!?!

And, of course, we got to see some young harbor seals playing.

A real-life Daily Affirmation: 

You can succeed!! You're a Peli-can, not a Peli-can't.

Shut up, Carl!!

"Now, think of the happiest things.
It's the same as having wings
Let's all try it, just once more
Look! We're rising off the floor
Jiminy! Oh my!
We can fly!
You can fly!
We can fly!"

"Shut up, Carl!! You're not Peter Pan!!"

We did come up to where the light was to have lunch and say Howdy to the Yaquina Head Light.

One last look at the pelicans.

UnFun Facts: When people say pelicans eat anything, they mean anything!! If it fits in their gaping maw, it's fair game. Besides fish, amphibians and crustaceans, they have been known to chow down on pigeons, ducks, cape cormorants, kelp gulls, swift terns and African penguins. Which is, after all, fine...birds eat other birds all the time.

But, and here's the rub, pelicans don't kill. They just swallow. Let's go to Return of the Jedi...remember Sarlacc? The whole horror of Sarlacc was that it didn't bite you or tear you -- it swallowed you whole, at which point you would be slowly digested in its stomach acid, unable to escape. That's how the pelican eats.

Yeah, they're cute but...

Aaaahhhh, Mother Nature is a cruel mistress.

It was fun, discovering the pelicans at the light.

Afterwards, we drove on down to the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center to discover (it was a day of discovery) that it was closed!! 


But, hey, we could still walk around the harbor and see what there was to see.

And we saw these cormorants hanging out at the Bird Hotel.

I never knew this...never really gave it any thought but bird houses are made for specific birds. I'm trying to get a bird house building project together for the Scouts. The Audubon wants to build some houses for Purple Martins and, doggone it, those birds have a specific kind of condo they need. They're social birds and so their house has to have a number of different apartments all together under one roof.

Who knew!?!

Not me.

Just playing around. I like the colored pattern here. I had one shot that was a close-up of a section of this and it was...dull. Something I can work on, getting these kind of shots.

And there she is. You can see it was a gray and cloudy day. 

As we walked in towards the bay, it changed, became more shallow and marshy. And it was here we found a number of ducks.

And we saw lots of Northern Pintail.

"Aw, c'mon!! Was it something I said!!"

As we were walking back Carol let out a whoop and pointed out a Northern Harrier sitting on the ground about 30-40 feet away from us.

Fun Harrier Facts: The Norther Harrier is distinctive from a long distance away; a slim, long-tailed hawk gliding low over a marsh or grassland, holding its wings in a V-shape and sports a white rump patch at the base of its tail.

Up close, it has an owllike face that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. Each gray-and-white male may mate with several females, which are larger and brown. OK, what sex is the bird in my picture?

These unusual raptors have a broad distribution across North America and Eurasia.

Interestingly, the Northern Harrier is an social bird that may be found in a flock perching on the ground.

And now it is Wednesday. I got up early and decided to take my walk and, of course, I brought a camera along with me. Besides getting pictures, the camera gives me a great excuse to stop and rest for a bit when my legs begin aching.

Hahaha, always thinking.

OK, maybe not always, but when I can.

Then I put it on 'Vivid Color' and that jacked up the color saturation. Street lights in the a.m.

And this little ray of sunshine.

Hahaha, deal with it!! Yeah, I got back on my B&W kick again.

And then I forgot I still had it in the B&W mode when we were driving down to The Devils Punch Bowl.

Oh, c'mon!! It sorta works. It gives me a reason to keep on trying...torturing you.

And yet another day and another walk. This one with a bit of sun to it.

OK, I just got tired of trying to sort all these pictures out. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm lazy. I know that. But here's the deal. I shoot with both the SX60 and the SX170 and they both have different number sequences and so they get all jumbled up and...I'm lazy.

Very, very lazy.

It is autumn, right!?! 

With an assist from the 'Vivid Color' accessory.

Hahaha, back to flowers again. These guys are few and far between.

And, finally, some Halloween decorations. Not bad, really.

It was a pelicany couple of days. I've never, ever seen so many pelicans in my life. And I was able to approach within 60-80 feet of them down in the grotto.

Plus every time I go on a walk it is a new opportunity to see the world around me. And I enjoy it.

And, y'know, life is good!!



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