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The Pelicans of Lake Kerkini

Trip reviews | Posted on April 25, 2015
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Earlier this year, I traveled to Lake Kerkini for a weekend trip with Natures Images to photograph the Dalmatian Pelican; I’d photographed here the previous year with Danny and was really keen to return again. I must admit that I have a bit of a thing about Dalmatian Pelicans, they had put a spell on me the year before and I couldn’t wait to see them again. Pelican-stareIt’s hard to believe that the Dalmatian Pelican is a threatened species, however human persecution and drainage of its habitat have decimated the population. At Lake Kerkini, a glimmer of hope is visible for this rare and beautiful bird, and thankfully a number of pelicans now breed and winter on the lake.Pelican-gathering

The winter months are in fact the best time to photograph the pelicans. At this time of year they are in their breeding plumage and their red pouches and wild head feathers provide characterful images. Some people say they look like Andy Warhol… I’ll let you make up your own mind about this one.Pelican-with-breeding-feathersThere are so many photographic opportunities at Lake Kerkini, the winter light is always changing. We had a period of soft light which created reflections on the water and up-lit the pelicans as they swam close by.Pelican

When the breeze dropped, the water was as still as a millpond and because the birds swim close to the shoreline these lovely reflections were created.

Relection-of-Pelican-beakPelican-reflectionI particularly enjoyed the chance to take some portraits of these magnificent birds when they were resting and preening on the lake’s rocky island¬† (the local fishermen take you to the island by small boat). In fact I think these are some of my favourite images from the trip.Pelican-and-featherPelican-preeningPelican-portraitThere were also a number of juveniles at Kerkini this year and I was really encouraged to see their numbers were greater than the year before. While they don’t have the curly head feathers or red pouches like the adults, I like the subtle colours of their eyes and feathers.Pelican-juvenileSo there you go, just a few images from a great weekend in northern Greece. One species, one location and a fantastic way to build a portfolio of images.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Paul Hobson, Emil Enchev and fellow guests on the trip who were great fun to be with.¬† And if you’re interested in joining me to photograph these rare and beautiful birds, the trip to Lake Kerkini is running again next year.

Here’s a final image from a fantastic weekendPelican-on-water

Ellie

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