American White Pelicans at Kit Carson Park!

From Alison Davies on December 14th.

Good morning, 


You’ve probably already heard this news because I wasn’t able to alert you yesterday when this happened – I was taking photos all day and spent the night editing images and trying to track down the avian biologist who tagged one of the birds.


Yesterday morning I was photographing birds at Kit Carson Park when a migrating flock of 17 American White Pelicans flying in a southeast direction decided to make a stop at our pond!  When I first spotted the flock off in the distance, very high up, my initial thought was that it was a flock of California Gulls – my eyesight isn’t great and all I could see was the white birds with some black on their wings.  But I soon noticed that these birds weren’t flapping – they were gliding.  I thought to myself, those cannot possibly be pelicans in that big of a group –  I’ve never seen a flock that large before.  So I lifted up my telephoto lens and gasped out loud when I saw that they were indeed pelicans, and they were descending!  The flock came down and circled the pond 4 times, coming closer and closer each time, before deciding it was safe to come down all the way…and then the real excitement began as they glided down, one after another like airliners descending on a runway, touching down and skidding across the surface of the water, and folding their wings as they slowed to a stop.  It was simply breathtaking!!


Here’s the event as it unfolded:
10:40 A.M.
This bird was tagged on both wings:
When all had touched down, several minutes were spent taking
a headcount and getting accustomed to the water . . .
. . . and then gathering on solid, dry ground where the straightening of ruffled feathers commenced:
Shortly after 11 A.M., it was time to get down to the business of refueling!
I took plenty of photos of the tagged bird and after searching the Internet, I was actually able to find the avian biologist who tagged the bird!  This beautiful bird is from Gunnison Island, Utah, and was banded as a juvenile in 2013:
Since the pond at Kit Carson is barely over a foot deep and contains no fish larger than minnows, I thought for sure the flock would move on either at sunset last night or at daybreak this morning.  But after going to bed last night at 4AM, I jumped out of bed this morning at 7AM and rushed down to the park, and I’m happy to report that the flock is still there – all members accounted for!


I emailed the biologist at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and sent him a report along with a couple dozen photos.  I got his reply this morning and he was thrilled, and would like me to pass along a message to our club members to please be on the lookout for more of his tagged pelicans.


Between yesterday and this morning, I stopped dozens of people at the park to point out the pelicans and convey how special they are and how lucky we are that they stopped here.
Most people are very interested and some ran home to get their cameras!


This has been a very exciting event that I feel privileged to have witnessed and


Update on December 15th:  The entire flock left the pond today except for the tagged bird who stayed behind.  Twenty minutes later, the flock returned with an additional 5 pelicans for a new grand total of 22!


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