Quota pelicans

I’ve been here a long time now. Almost 30% of my life. But I still get a childish kind of excitement when I spot stuff that, as a child, I would only have seen in a zoo. And by this, I mean wild stuff. Not stuff in a zoo. Because you’d expect to see that in a zoo anyway. No, I’m talking about baboons, penguins, whales (no, I’ve never seen a whale in a zoo), flamingos, ostriches, snakes, mongeeses, and yes, pelicans.


This isn’t my photo. I was emailed it. Sadly, I’m fairly sure that it isn’t the photo of the person that emailed me either. So credit to the Unknown Photographer. Nice work.

Pelicans, for the record, are large. Big, chunky birds which do a lot of soaring. You can see them in Cape Town on the in-this-case-ever-so-slightly-misnamed Flamingo Vlei in (Uns)Table View and, if you’re lucky on the Black River between Obs and the M5. The locals are Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) (and nothing to do with the sharks) whereas the ones above with their pink beaks and thin black line under their wings are, I think, Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus).

And of course, when speaking of pelicans, one should always quote Dixon Lanier Merritt:

A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican?

Yep. Big beaks. And those Aussies above have the biggest of all.

The record-sized bill was 50cm (20″) long.

Half a metre of beak. And that’s mainly keratin, just like your hair and nails, and just like a rhino’s horn.

Yikes. No-one tell the poachers…

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