Thursday, 3 September 2009

Where are Pelicans?

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.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Liara Covert said...

Human beings will also ask where have all the bumblebees have gone. What you do not perceive with physical eyes still exists but may reside outside your radar screen or scope of current awareness. Consider people often look where they assume something is "supposed" to be and do not notice when what they seek is somewhere else.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. Yes - we always see what we expect to see, and not often what is there - especially in this fast moving world of ours - when we don't take time to think.

I hope the bumble bees will still be here - we need them.

Thanks for visiting - all the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Letters

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Thank you Hilary,

Those people need some help. Lets hope that the patch that they made will make it through the winter in Alaska.

It is great to know more about the birds as well.

Hope that all is well with you and your mother. Have a great day.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. yes they sure do - it looks like they'll be ok .. things are being sorted out, but the big question is - the cash so to speak before the new system in 2010.

Glad you liked the pelican stories too ..

We're fine - I'll go back up to see my mother tomorrow .. and I spoke to her yesterday and all is well - many thanks ..back to the old routine of twice a d ay visits ..

Thanks - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Lorna Allan said...

Interesting post Hilary. Pelican was a great little place full of interesting history and people. The is a real Alaskan village, no tourist town pretending to be. The people are great, friendly and kind, always wanting to help to make your day better, even if it was good in the first place.
Cheers for this Hilary

Daphne @ Joyful Days said...


I'd never asked that question before. I just assumed pelicans must live somewhere and never asked where! Nice post and pictures. Reminded me, funnily enough, of the movie Finding Nemo :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lorna .. you made it! It was an interesting link and I just found the whole fascinating - especially as I've never been up to Alaska. When I read up about it .. I just learnt a little more and I learnt to do the copyright sign! Talk about a learning curve all the time.

Yes - when I listened to the broadcast the mayor (a lady) and a chap .. can't remember who he was - but they were so practical about things. I just was inspired listening to their hopes and dreams in that small town ..

Thanks .. and glad you enjoyed it!
All the best Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Daphne - perhaps I should have asked "where be Pelicans?" - but Lorna's link about the seaport in the Alaskan panhandle just made me think .. ok tie in two things here.

They're in Australia, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe .. but their habitat is being threatened somewhat ..

Glad you liked the post and the pics .. and that you can remember Finding Nemo! it was a fun movie ...

Have a great weekend -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Janice Lynne Lundy said...

Hilary, well I found you on FB and now made a friend request. I don't know what the problem is. Will seek assistance next week.

For now, love this post on pelicans. Some people think they are strange creatures but I love watching them at the ocean. They are so bold, fearless. Especially how they dive bomb into the water to get food.

Hope you have a weekend of joy...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jan .. sorted now - it did connect through later on.

Have you got them where you live - how lovely .. I must say they look rather fun creatures to watch poddling along. Creatures that are so haphazard on earth, turn into such brilliant acrobats and wonders of the world as they swim or dive for fish - as these do.

Thanks for visiting .. yes - weekend of love and happiness - you enjoy your ocean!
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hello Hilary,

It is good to hear about your mother. It is hard going back and forth twice a day. My mother did it once a day with my grandmother, it drains you a lot. Take care of yourself as well. Look at all the good memories that you will have with her.
( As well as the trouble of dealing with the system. No Fun.)

Have a good day.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. thanks for coming back .. we go on, as positively as possible. Just having a minor blip at the moment - hope to get a post out today. A few other things going on - but life goes and I must knuckle under and do what I can.

Thanks for your care - appreciated - all the best to you too ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

Quite fascinating post about pelicans.....I always enjoy your posts on birds. I actually never thought I would see a pelican in London! The picture of the pelican eating the pigeon was quite a wildlife photo.

Summer is almost over....and the family is back at school! Thank you for your interesting post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. glad you like the bird stories .. nor did I think that Pelicans were 'loose' in London - or had been there since the late 1600s.

The luck of the photographer for us - to see the beady eye peeking out!

Yes - chilly, but sunny here, so autumn fast approaching .. hope you had a good summer -

thanks for being here
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Believe Achieve - Hugo and Roxanne said...

Hi Hilary,

A pigeon-eating pelicans? That's unbelieveable! Until I saw the picture, of course. LOL
This is a story I'll definitely remember! :-)Thanks for sharing.

Many Blessings....

Roxanne and Hugo
Believe Achieve

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Hugo and Roxanne - great to see you .. yes a pelican guzzling a pigeon .. and isn't it amazing that now-a-days there's always someone with a mobile phone around, or a camera .. and a picture can be captured.

Thanks - it's a story I'll remember too .. surprising what we find!

Go well - all the best Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Pelican Cases said...

This is a great blog and the information/stories within it are amazing. I was shocked to see the pigeon inside the mouth of the Pelican, but also when I read about the girl who "collided" with a pelican when it was coming down for food, I was in total shock. 11 stitches for being hit by a bird. I am curious how the explanation went at the hospital, and also how the conversation went with the insurance company. These days getting your insurance to cover something is like pleading your case in the courtroom.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pelican Cases .. thank you for coming over and being so complementary on the blog. Sorry about the pigeon .. so was I when I saw the picture.

I really don't know about the girl swimming .. it was off Florida I think .. and who paid what .. I have no idea, nor how the insurance went .. my research only goes so far!!

Enjoy your week and thanks so much for being here .. good to have your thoughts -

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories