I too asked this question when I saw a note from a friend of mine, Lorna, in New Zealand and clicked through to find out more. Tiny villages or communities like this one is home to just 113 souls; back in the 1970s I lived for a while in a Northamptonshire village of 180 or so, but within a radius of a few miles there were a number of other villages and the main town – so to find Pelican, a sea fishing village on the Alaskan Panhandle was an interesting experience; while then again to find descendents of Charles II time living happily in St James’s Park was too!
Photo credit © Glenn Bills 2004 Aerial View of Pelican
Lorna spent some time in Alaska pursuing her art and photography passion and had spent some time there. What sort of sank in, when I looked at this picture of the sea port, is how obviously isolated it is – and when something major goes wrong to our town’s infrastructure, it just gets sorted out and that is it: in Pelican things are different.
Raven Radio Sitka, Alaska: KCAW-FM Radio Broadcast (short) is interesting - listen here
Their wooden flume broke and this meant that the water and hydro-electric systems failed leaving the town with a rather large quandary: without fresh water and without any electricity in their homes and businesses. The systems have been patched – but the Alaskan winter approaches – the dilemma now is finding a ‘permanent temporary’ measure (if that makes sense?) until the scheduled brand new pipe is installed next year.
Image by City of Pelican
This resilient community will pull through and the tiny haven will continue to offer commercial fishermen storm protection, as intended, when established by The Pelican’s owner in 1938. Raven Radio of Sitka, Alaska reported on the flume’s collapse and there’s a short radio broadcast.
Now comes the fun bit - who would have thought that pelicans would be living on the duck pond in the middle of St James’s Park London – certainly not me! Especially pigeon eating pelicans. This world is amazing! The Russian Ambassador in the late 1600s had given Charles II these exotic birds as a present and here they are to do this day.
This happened in October 2006 – one of the five pelicans living near Duck Island in the Park was sauntering happily along, watched by a number of tourists, as was the poor pigeon minding its own business – pelicans eat fish, but the next thing the pigeon was gulped in – can you see its beady eye? Apparently it struggled but eventually the pelican won and had its strange lunch.
The Pelican with its huge wingspan and large pouched bills are found worldwide, though naturally occurring in the warmer climes; there are two main groups: those with mostly white adult plumage, which nest on the ground, while those with brown or pink-backed plumage nest in trees. The wingspan ranges from as little as 6 feet to over 11 feet, while the bill is the longest of any known bird.
The unusual wildlife spectacle in St James's Park was caught on camera by photographer Cathal McNaughton: courtesy of the BBC 25 October 2006
Surprisingly they often fish in groups forming a line to chase schools of small fish into shallow water and then scoop them up, or with larger fish they are caught with the bill-tip, then tossed into the air and caught before being swallowed head first. The Brown Pelican of North America usually plunge-dives for its prey – watch out all swimmers and surfers, because as one young lady found out she needed 11 stitches after colliding with a Pelican.
Pelicans have been revered for centuries in countries around the world; in Western Europe they feature in heraldry, in Medieval times they were represented in ‘Bestiaries’, in Peru the Moche civilisation (around 300AD) worshipped nature, often depicting Pelicans in their art.
A Pelican can be a book - a child of Penguin?! or as here it can be a seaport, with some desperate repairs needed, found on the panhandle of Alaska – not the one that stretches out into the Pacific, but the strip of islands, long inlets that continues down the coast of Canada for about 400 miles. Or the pelican bird found on various continents and seemingly, on occasions, vicarious in its diet – a pigeon here or there, or a duck, or a dove.
Just looking to find out about something that catches my eye, or amuses me can lead to so many interesting diversions – pelican eating birds, bestiaries, flumes, panhandles, symbolism across the ages: so much has happened in this world of ours that we can, should we wish, find out about.
Dear Mr Postman – Autumn has arrived and it’s only September, it really is a bit much. I have another couple of days to myself before I get back to seeing my mother again on a daily basis – it’s been good to have a little space at home this time, and not have to rush off and catch an aeroplane to the other side of the world – well I’d love to .. but not for 6 days as I have been doing! so this has been treat time, but it’ll be nice to be back to see her.
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories