Brown pelicans diving and fishing off the beach at Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_300-3

Brown Pelicans; Dive-bombers of the Sea – Photo Essay

Joining the thousands of travellers that circumnavigate the globe to watch birds, (the feathered variety) is gathering increasing appeal. I’ve always appreciated their beauty, the freedom they represent, but recent opportunities to see exotic, colourful and majestic flying dinosaurs has added my interest, becoming particularly fond of pelicans.

Brown pelicans diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16848

Diving bird

Their appeal may not immediately seem apparent, and cute, funny penguins, majestic eagles or charismatic kingfishers probably have many more admirers, but watching these impressive creatures plunging into the sea just beyond the breakers is a heart racing experience.

Brown pelicans diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16787

Bird squadron

Standing in the shallows with the waves breaking around my knees on the San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit near Puerto Vallarta in Mexico I watched transfixed as a small flock of these magnificent birds dive-bombed shoals of fish just below the rollers.

Brown pelican diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16791

The dart

The pelicans seemed to queue in orderly fashion, before stalling mid-air before hurtling towards the ocean, crashing into the water like a ballistic missile. It was easy to imagine the panic stricken fish darting in all directions attempting to escape their assailants from the skies; it’s supposed to be safe down here.

Brown pelican diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16793

Just hanging

These birds seem ungainly, yet once in the air they are graceful, and agile beyond anything we can imagine. Their display is almost balletic, swooping low, changing direction mid-air before accelerating to almost break neck speed as they charge towards the surf.

I could happily have remained on the attractive beach for hours watching the drama unfold, even choosing to almost ignore the nearby surfers, normally another favourite subject for my lens.

Brown pelican diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16832

Low flying hazard

Birds and surfers seem in harmony, each ignoring the other, one concentrating on catching a wave, while the others were only interested in catching dinner. They often flew low over the heads of the surfers and were happy to plunge into the water between them.

Brown pelican diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16829

Dive-bomber

You’re probably bored by images of diving pelicans by now, but I’m actually quite proud of these captures, they came out ok, especially when considered I was some distance away. All the images were taken on a 28-135mm lens, and have been cropped, but didn’t turn out too bad.

Brown pelican diving and fishing off the beach of San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16809

Ballet in flight

Mexico is popular with birdwatchers, keen to see the masses of birds which migrate through the country, seabirds and waders stopping off along the many miles of coastline, while still more make the mangroves their temporary homes.

Resorts like Riviera Nayarit, and Puerto Vallarta offer more than sombreros and tequila, or even sandy beaches, though there are plenty of those too. There is also culture and wildlife, which are worth taking a few hours away from the sun-worshipping to enjoy.

Tern fishing at San Pancho in Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_Mex16741

It’s not just pelicans than can dive

I’m not about to start wearing khaki coloured safari clothing or camouflaged beach shorts, buy a hide and a spotting scope, or watching reruns of “Springwatch”. Twitching is not going to become an all-consuming pastime, but afternoons like this will ensure I continue to enjoy watching birds whenever the opportunity arises.

Brown pelicans diving and fishing off the beach at Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on Mallory on Travel adventure travel, photography, travel Iain_Mallory_300-3

Double divers

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Comments 5

  1. Melissa Banczak

    Nope, not tired of photos of diving Pelicans. When I lived in Key West, I loved watching the Pelicans. I never saw them diving though, always just bobbing around in the harbor waiting for the fishing boats to clean their catch. Well, we did have one stalk us while we were fishing one afternoon. Poor thing, we tried to throw a recent catch to him and it slipped back into the water. He actually looked disappointed.

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      Iain Mallory

      Glad you’re not tired Melissa, they are uniquely funny and yet spectacular birds all at once, great show they put on when diving. Nice story too, better fishers than pitchers huh? 😉

  2. Kamila

    Amazing photos! Thats all your work? I cant understand how you can do shots birds in fly?! I cant, cuz all my photos is crap. Clap clap to you. Nice blog and nice talent with camera.

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