White Pelicans Flying Over North Skyway Area STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBERT NEFF

Oct 23, 2017. This was my first time witnessing what may have been a white pelican migration. I was at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge's North Skyway area and was standing on the sandy area where the kite boarders launch. Behind me was the access road to get here. On the other side of the fence along the access road, I could here the sound of cars buzzing by me on I-275.

This location is on the Gulf of Mexico side of the Skyway Bridge. On the horizon are views of Tampa Bay's St. Pete Beach, Fort DeSoto, and St. Petersburg. In the distance I saw a small dot that was growing. At first I thought this was a colony of black skimmers. When I realized this mass was heading my direction, I noticed the grouping and flight pattern were not the same as the black skimmer.

Plus, the dots were getting bigger and bigger. The birds and were too big to be black skimmers.

Imagine my surprise when I saw they were white pelicans!

Two hurricanes had devastated the many of the nesting grounds.

Will the white pelicans be able to return to the same nesting areas?

The white pelican is one of the largest birds in America.

The wing span can reach 9 feet.

As the flock was almost above me, part of the flock starting turning east to go across the I-275. The turn was not smooth.

They were spread out and when the lead turned, the rest didn't immediately notice and took a while a while to respond.

Actually, this seemed to be an uncoordinated turn.

The turn took a while.

Eventually, the colony flew into formation.

A few were trying to catch up to the main flock.

Now, I turned to watch them head over Tampa Bay.

My book, Pelican Beakon, earned a silver medal at 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President's Book Award in the short story fiction category. The Pelican Beakon is a newspaper for pelicans, by pelicans, and their one staff human photographer who dreams of being writer. Read more about the Pelican Beakon on its website.

Enjoy more stories and images of what I get to enjoy everyday!

Purchase Robert Neff's Photography online at Saatachi Art, Adobe Stock Photography and Fotolia. If you see a photograph that is not there, let me know. I can add the image.

Venice, Italy. 2007

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Robert Neff


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