Thursday, January 02, 2014

Pelican…belly can

For years we have had an osprey patrolling our long deserted beach, keen-eyed and elegant, he glides high above with hardly a wingbeat, watching for that flash of silver in the surf that promises dinner. We are hugely grateful for his presence, his appetite, his angelic grace.

Last year for the first time he acquired a rival, still around this year, a brown pelican, staking claim to the same long stretch of surf. An ungainly bird, not nearly as elegant as the osprey, nor as keen-eyed either, apparently. He flies closer to the water, his Stuka wings flopping –- beat, gli-i-i-ide, beat, gl-i-i-ide -- neck curled back, his pouch-like beak dragging him forward.

Audubon painted him perched on a mangrove branch, big-headed, russet-crested, gimlet-eyed, paddle-footed. You wouldn't imagine he could fly. But fly he does, a lumbering 747 to the osprey's sleek Dreamliner. We sense him first when his magnificent shadow sweeps over us, like a visitor from Mordor. "Look! Look! The pelican."