Pelicans at Frontenac, MN

This very cold, snowy and seemingly endless winter has created a void in my ability to find and photograph suitable material for this blog. I guess it could be called "cabin fever" but whatever it is I don't like it. I am really looking forward to spring and all the photo opportunities nature provides.

One of those opportunities occurred last Thursday, April 17th, when I received a phone call from a friend who reported just seeing thousands of Pelicans near Frontenac, MN. He said they were located in the small Lake on the south side of Frontenac and that it was an incredible sight.

It did not take long for me to decide to take a chance and make a quick trip to Frontenac to see if I would be lucky enough to find the Pelicans still hanging around the lake. For the next hour or so I was headed north on Hwy 61 full of anticipation. I was hoping I remembered to pack all of the right equipment, that the camera batteries were charged and that I would remember all the correct camera settings to use when I got there.

I also had time to reflect on nature and how great it was to live in this part of the country. With all the global warming warnings, environmental scares and the many dire forecasts of doom, nature has a way of smiling back at us. As if to say, "stay vigilant but also enjoy the progress". We are making progress in protecting our wildlife. You can look up to the sky now and see a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. A sight that was considered rare just a few years ago. Or see a beautiful Whitetail Deer walk past the house and enjoy a meal of Pam's flowers. :)  

As I rounded the last curve on Hwy 61 just south of Frontenac I saw there were several cars parked on the shoulder of the highway adjacent to the lake. That was a sure sign there were still some birds around. I quickly pulled over near the other cars and saw hundreds of American Pelicans roosting in the shallows and flying all over the place. I also noticed the occupants of the other cars clicking photos with looks of awe on their faces. People were almost giddy in their reaction to seeing such a unique sight.

Yes, I was feeling the same way as I nervously got out the camera and tripod. I got the camera ready to start taking photographs but had to step back and take in the incredible sight. I did not know where to start! I feel a little anxiety when I am in proximity to such incredible views and fear that if I don't start shooting immediately to record the moment, it could all disappear in an instant and be gone forever.

I took a deep breath and started to shoot. As I did so I also tried to absorb as much of the moment as possible. It was thrilling. About an hour and a half later I had the feeling I captured all the shots I needed and that if I kept shooting I would just be duplicating what I already had. It was now midafternoon and the Pelicans were still flying out of the area. I could only imagine what the sight must have been earlier that morning when most of the birds were still in the lake. After getting the equipment packed up and back in the car, I sat back and just watched a few moments, reflecting on what I had just witnessed and realizing what a blessing it was to have been able to view and photograph it.

The images I posted below are in no particular order and are best viewed large. Just click on an image to enlarge it.

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South end of the lake where most of the Pelicans were roosting.

Primping and preening for the late sleepers.
The Pelicans look a little odd when face to face with you.

A water hugging flock of Pelicans.

Leaving the crowded roosting area.
I shot this near the vortex of a large flock of Pelicans as they circled upward
on an updraft.

The Canada Geese were not shy about shagging out Pelicans that got to
close to their nests.
The resting Pelicans were not to upset by other Pelicans flying close by.

The Canada Geese kept a close watch on the Pelicans.

These are huge birds that seem to float effortlessly.

Flaps down for a landing.
Preening in solitude.

Heading north over Frontenac.



  1. Lovely, Al. My favorite is the 'preening' one.


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