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Old Apr 12, 2016, 2:57 PM   #1
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Default Anatomy of a Brown Pelican Fishing (Bird in flight and diving) w/E-M1 and 50-200mm mk

I just got back from a wonderful vacation in beautiful Aruba and took the opportunity to photograph the Brown Pelicans that fish the turquoise waters. Brown Pelicans fish by flying up in the air anywhere from 10 to 60 feet and then diving head first into the water at break neck speed going partially or fully under the water to catch their food. They eat small fish such as sardines and spend most of the day fishing which makes them fun to watch and also good targets.

We were staying at the divi phoenix which has a nice jetty of rocks that provides a spot for the birds to rest, here is a shot in the early evening sun while the bird was resting.


Pelican portrait

Pelican Portrait by ramcewan, on Flickr


flapping their big wings they fly into the wind and would use the updrafts from the jetty to gain altitude quickly, here the bird is going right over my head faster than I could zoom out

Big Bird Overhead by ramcewan, on Flickr

a few beats of their powerful wings later they rise high into the air and begin searching for fish in the water

The Turn by ramcewan, on Flickr

untitled-13 by ramcewan, on Flickr

untitled by ramcewan, on Flickr

soaring high above they find the small fish they consume

untitled-2 by ramcewan, on Flickr

target sighted by ramcewan, on Flickr

Once the target is sighted they begin turning into the wind gaining speed

target sighted by ramcewan, on Flickr

turning on target by ramcewan, on Flickr
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Last edited by ramcewan; Apr 12, 2016 at 3:08 PM.
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Old Apr 12, 2016, 2:58 PM   #2
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Default Anatomy of a Brown Pelican Fishing (Bird in flight and diving) w/E-M1 and 50-200 pt2

When they're lined up they pull the wings in and begin diving at literally break neck speeds, beak first headed towards the water. It was awfully hard to track them at this point and I had to push the shutter speed to 1/2500. This is pretty heavily cropped as I found being close and zoomed in was just beyond my skill to follow, probably could have used the dot site for this.

final approach by ramcewan, on Flickr

at the very last moment the bird spins it's body 180 degrees so that upon surfacing it is facing back into the wind in case a quick takeoff is needed. I managed to just capture the beak breaking the surface as the body is spinning in this shot.

Going In by ramcewan, on Flickr

And splashdown! In this shot the bird has almost completely submerged

Splash down! by ramcewan, on Flickr

Back on the surface they bird drains the water from it's massive 2 gallon holding gullet while clutching the tiny sardine in it's beak. All that work for such a small fish!

dinner by ramcewan, on Flickr

A celebratory flip in the air of the catch
Playing with food by ramcewan, on Flickr

and down the hatch

down the hatch! by ramcewan, on Flickr

A few dozen fish later and it's off into the sunset

Three fishing in the sunset by ramcewan, on Flickr

(all shots taken at either 1/1600 or 1/2500 in C-AF mode, most cropped but some but some cropped none)
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Last edited by ramcewan; Apr 12, 2016 at 3:11 PM.
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Old Apr 12, 2016, 8:06 PM   #3
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Nice series, very informative.

Mike
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Old Apr 13, 2016, 11:24 AM   #4
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Nice series, very informative.

Mike
thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it and my narrative
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Old Apr 13, 2016, 11:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blkms View Post
Nice series, very informative.

Mike
I also agree.
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Old Apr 17, 2016, 10:05 PM   #6
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I also agree.
Thanks Steven R, I am glad you enjoyed them, here's a few more takeoff sequences I hope you also enjoy. Can't say they're all perfectly in focus but I did my best, in spite of their size they can move pretty quickly, again shot with the E-M1 + 50-200mm MK I using C-AF at 1/2500 mostly, glad I had bright sunshine

untitled-20 by ramcewan, on Flickr

takeoff by ramcewan, on Flickr

untitled-19 by ramcewan, on Flickr

untitled-18 by ramcewan, on Flickr

untitled-21 by ramcewan, on Flickr
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Old Apr 18, 2016, 6:10 AM   #7
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Excellent series , like them a lot some real great BIF shots here well done thanks for posting them.

Last edited by TG; Apr 18, 2016 at 6:13 AM.
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Old Apr 18, 2016, 12:35 PM   #8
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Excellent series , like them a lot some real great BIF shots here well done thanks for posting them.
Thanks TG!
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Old May 23, 2016, 8:55 PM   #9
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Very nice series Ramcewan, some are very sharp..!!
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