The Bad Boys of San Leon

Edited to add:
As they are wont to do, WordPress saw it fit to lose the painstakingly applied links I had on each of the photos. If anyone wants to see larger versions of these photos, the SmugMug Gallery is HERE.

Just the name “Texas” used to evoke a certain . . . something.  I don’t know exactly what, but one imagines saying “I’m from Texas” would get one to stand a little taller, square the shoulders, and add a little to one’s sense of self worth.

Certainly one would not get that from saying, for example, “I’m from Maryland”, or “I’m from Illinois”.  No, it’s the word “Texas” that carries something with it . . . or it used to.  These days they have little to be proud of.   From revisionist history, to turning a blind eye to scientific discovery and science itself, to being proud of sub-standard education, to unfriendly people, to towns after towns where economic depression has been a way of life for more than people care to remember, its Lone Star has lost some of the luster.

I had occasion to visit there recently (blog post), and aside what were obviously not the best of circumstances, I was deeply disappointed in all facets of my visit to Texas save one.  We were staying at a house in San Leon, right on Galveston Bay.  When things were getting to me I would step out on the deck , turn my mind off, and watch the sights and listen to the sounds of the bay.

Water, ocean freighters, and sea birds . . . what’s not to like?

One might notice from the movie clip the most prevalent and striking sight were The Bad Boys of San Leon; Brown Pelicans.

Brown Pelican gliding along

The name was coined by  my wife, and it refers to their “cruising” up and down the shoreline.  They appear silently, stream by in long lines looking all tough and serious, and disappear as silently as they appeared.

The Glide Cruise

The austere, semi-prehistoric look gives the impression they are tough customers indeed.  I don’t know why they cruise in groups, or why they go up and down the coastline following the contour of the shore, but they do appear very much as if they are reminding everyone this is their turf.

This next video is shot from the pier looking inland.

I shot a number of pictures while in San Leon, but this post is just about The Bad Boys; future posts will cover the other stuff.

Formation Flying

As I said above, don’t know what advantage cruising in groups offers, but it does make for views reminiscent of planes flying in formation.  The birds themselves remind me of Pterodactyls, especially when they are gliding along.

Brown Pelican looking prehistoric

Yes, I know, these guys have feathers, and impressive ones at that.

Brown Pelican Taking Off

As awesome as they can look, there is one view view that is not flattering:

Head-on they tend to look a little goofy . . .

The straight on shot provides a view of their visage that perhaps hints at not much going on in the thinking department.  They look positively goofy.  Yes, I don’t know this fellow, and I am making a snap judgment on looks alone.  Not often, but sometimes it’s warranted.

One neat thing with them cruising I was not able to capture on video.  When the lead pelican drops down to glide just over the water, all the following pelicans drop down at around the same place, and the result is an escalator-like impression for the observer.

The escalator look

The tail end of the escalator look

Click on the picture to go and see the higher resolution SmugMug album pictures.

One of the other things I like are some of the Ninja-like poses they strike when captured in flight.

The famous "Flying Blossom" Ninja pose

By far the most interesting activity of these birds is their hunting/fishing.  They fly around until they see a fish, and then dive to get it.

Here is a short slideshow of a couple of them diving.  There is a longer one which I will put at the end of the post.

Notice how at the last moment, just before entering the water,  it turn upside-down.  That is why the pictures in the water show the wings pointed the wrong way from the flight path.  Again, I did not look into the why; I just enjoyed watching them.  Here are a few pictures just before the strike.

First of three slides showing the dive

Second slide still shows the pelican tracking upright.

Eventually I will look into it, but for now it’s just neat to see.

At one point I spied one of the pelicans drying itself on the remnant of a pier destroyed by hurricane Ike.  I slowly made my way along the pier and got some excellent photos  from up close.  And I also captured this sequence of shots.  I especially like the launch when it flies off.

Here are a few of the other pictures I got from that set.

Still eyeing me . . .

Eyeing my slow advance

He's had enough of all the clicking and zooming.

He launches!

The neck is already tucked . . .

Adding altitude and looking to leave

Almost in flight position, but the ugly feet need to be stowed

As usual, click on any of the pictures to see the full size originals in SmugMug.  All the pictures, and videos, are annotated.

So, that is my tale of The Bad Boys of San Lean, Texas.  We are going to be down there again, and I hope to get better videos of their antics.  Meanwhile here are a few more.

By the way, I had added music to some of the YouTube clips in this post.  Unfortunately YouTube seems to be experiencing a glitch.  It says it replaced the audio track, but nothing plays.  I think it sad they cannot fix their own programs, and sadder still one does not know it they are even aware of it.

Brown Pelican solo flight: 

Longer Brown Pelican diving slideshow animation:

This next one is of a deliberate diver.  I kept filming as it looked like it was going to dive any moment.  It finally did.

A longer clip of a string of Pelicans cruising, you can see the escalator drop when they drop down to the water:

A very short clip showing how it seems the tree is sprouting pelicans:

And that’s it.  

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Birds, Brown Pelicans, My YouTube, Photography Stuff, YouTube Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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