Posted by: atowhee | October 9, 2021


Pelicans chasing and catching fish is one of birding’s fine experiences. It ranks up there with the thousands of Sandhill Cranes taking off on a frosty March morning along Nebrask’a Platte River, or a kettle of 200 Turkey Vultures gathered at the south end of the Rogue Valley as they circle to get high enough to top the 4310′ Siskiyou Pass, or the cliff face at Montfrague in western Spain with dozens of Griffon Vultures on dozens of nests in a dense colony, or a single Hoopoe raising his crest in annoyance, or 14000 Vaux’s Swifts funneling down into a high brick chimney in San Rafael, or a Mockingbird riding the arched back of a Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos, or the float (not quite ordinary flight) of two pin-tailed wydah across the Ugandan savannah with those trailing tail streamers that more than double the rest of the bird’s length.

And click here for Lee McEachern’s video of some Pelimonium in Marin.

At my age I occasionally think of what my final brain image will be. A morsel of chocolate, glass of tempranillo, an insight into some epistemological conundrum, a blissful calm, a nectar-sucking bee?
If I can choose, the closing sequence will be to re-live the moment when our low-slung canoe rounded a bulge of leaves in the papyrus swamp and then we were looking up into the unflinching gaze of a Shoebill looking down his pelican beak at the intruding mammals. Our presence finally bored him into yawning in the tropical swelter. He was the epitome of self-assurance, self-containment, patience and a selfhood unshaken by anything in human history. His gray was the true color of deep wisdom.

Click here for that first blog more than a decade ago when the showbill fit.

For wydah understanding of nature, click here…flight on video.


  1. Beautiful photos and excellent text commentary. In your travels have you ever observed the Goliath Heron of Africa? Aka Giant Heron? Best, Babsje

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