While not unheard of, it’s not all that common to run across pelicans at our local Botanic Gardens, so I was quite surprised to see this guy sunning himself on the lawn. I got as close as I dared and started to take pictures, expecting to get one or two before he got spooked. However, this pelican apparently did not know the meaning of ‘spooked’.
As more passers by stopped and started taking pictures, this fellow started strutting up and down like a model on a catwalk, flapping his wings and basically showing off. Eventually there were about a dozen of us humans standing there frantically clicking away.
This went on for about ten minutes, at which point Mr Pelican decided he was bored with us paparazzi types, and took off.
Australian Pelicans can be found in all states of Australia. They are not endangered, though habitat destruction is an ongoing issue for much of our wildlife here. They like open water such as rivers, lakes estuaries, even swamps. In the last few years there has been an overall decline in their population on the Murray-Darling basin. A study done by the University of New South Wales in 2017 indicated a 70% decline in waterbird population along the river, which is considered to be an indicator of overall river health. It’s believed that the number of dams in the area is significant – the Murray-Darling has 240 dams, while the similarly sized Lake Eyre, with one dam, has experienced no such population decrease, and is in fact a popular breeding ground for the birds. It would appear that water flow is affecting the bird population. The experts believe that it is possible for the population to recover if action is taken to improve the free flow of water.
After the thrill of seeing such a beautiful creature so close (and not in a zoo), I am reminded of how important it is to remain aware of the damage we cause to our world by our manipulation of it. As a group of strangers bonded for a moment over this experience, it was a timely reminder to be mindful of how we impact our environment.