Pelicans and Peddlers
Pelicans and Peddlers
We are surrounded by a variety of sea and shore birds as well as the ever vocal ravens and local magpies, but apart from the majestic and aloof sea eagles who command admiration it is the local colony of thirty or so pelicans that I find most friendly and almost companionable, if one can get past that colossal, all enveloping beak.
I remember when we were sailing south from Panama watching V shaped formations flying above us with the odd cormorant in position within the group and welcomed it seemed by them.
Then, more recently if you recall when we were moored in Kangaroo Island we watched a cormorant fishing for a pelican as a kind of servant although I’m not sure what the pelican gained from it.
Alison on Tregoning, now holed up safely in Port Stephens, told us how she watched as a tern sat on a pelican’s head while it fished, the tern taking off every time the pelican ducked his head for a catch. Then as the fish was brought up and bits flew off it the tern cleared them up. I have not yet seen such a relationship with seagulls, they seem to be the rude, short tempered and aggressive members of the bird world.
Here at Emu ‘Haven’ when fishermen come ashore there is a little covered area with the green roof you see and a central stainless counter sloping inwards to the drain hole where they clean and wash their catch. Seeing these pelicans in small groups waiting patiently for scraps showing the height of good manners is remarkable, they are not at all aggressive but just like to keep their personal space, sidling away if one gets too close, eyeing me with those doleful eyes.
I wondered for a while why the back of their heads and neck were grey when the rest of their plumage is the beautiful contrast of black and white. They cannot reach their heads with their beak! They are big birds, they come up to my chest and watching them take off down the fairway between the boat pens, elevating over the harbour and then banking around reminds me of what man has learned from birds in the progress of aviation.
Sometimes we watch them from on board Zoonie as they circle in groups overhead, riding the thermals for exercise and pleasure. They really grace this place with their presence.
There is always a happy relaxed atmosphere here. People come because they love the place and what it offers them, harmony with beautiful nature, rest, relaxation, exercise, company if only at a distance and an escape from the world, where they can be themselves, as eccentric as they wish and others will just delight in their uniqueness, take for example the pedal pusher on his elevated bike out for a ride with his family. Individual human thinking here, no herd mentality, just do your own thing as long as it causes no harm. The young mum with her tiny baby on her chest paddling in the shallow water and lots of people having fun with their children and dogs.
That’s not to say it’s all play, there are a few small commercial fishing boats and Darren and John work every day in the boatyard. There are the two cafes busy providing a take-away service which will be an essential string to their bow when they open up their table and seats again and have to reduce the capacity to comply with social distancing rules. There is a boat sales yard and chandlery and the shellfish plant that processes the oysters and mussels for which the area is famous. And a red and yellow tour boat takes the punter on a trip around all the interesting spots in Oyster Harbour including the Kalgan River. I’d like to do that if and when he opens up again, the harbour is too shallow to explore in Zoonie.