Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birds, Sea Lions and The Parade of Lights

 White Pelicans, San Diego River Estuary (their beaks angled for entry to the water )
Last Sunday, we went to see the San Diego Parade of Lights, which is an annual holiday tradition held at the San Diego Bay. San Diego is more known as the city that loves water activities, thus, aside from surfing, snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, and other more common activities by the sea that I often share in some of my posts, other popular water activities in San Diego are wind sailing, yachting, fishing and boating. Tha Parade of Lights if the Christmas gift to the city of the boating community of San Diego. We oftentimes miss this event, but last Sunday, we took note of the time of the parade and did not forget about it. :)  According to my research, the parade will start at Shelter Island,and will go around the San Diego Bay passing by Harbor Island, Embarcadero and ending at Coronado Ferry Landing.

Anywhere along the San Diego Bay would be a good viewing site, but we decided to witness the event at Shelter Island. On our way to Shelter Island, passing by the San Diego River Estuary, I saw a group of huge white birds that I seldom see that close to the sea, the WHITE PELICANS!

 White Pelicans in Synchronized Fishing ( beaks down )
In my older post, "Some Inland Birds of San Diego County", I mentioned that I mostly see them in inland lakes, and sometimes in San Elijo lagoon. I never saw them with a CA brown pelican which most of the time stay close to the ocean, until last Sunday. I spotted these pelicans at Robb Field, which is close enough to Ocean Beach. It was such a joy watching them do what they are more known for, doing synchronized fishing. Unlike the CA brown pelicans, the white pelicans don't dive into the water from the air, instead, they catch fish while swimming. White pelicans love to come together in groups to do cooperative fishing, where they can corral fish to one another. Each of the adult white pelican eats about 4 pounds of fish a day. 
 Heads Under
 Heads Down, Wings Slowly Going Up
 Up Again, and Now Happily Planning for the Next Fishing :)
The San Diego River Estuary, where San Diego River meets the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach, is referred to sometimes as a "Mile of Birds". There are a variety of birds here, in fact, as I was trying to run towards the bridge to catch the pelicans up close before they move farther away to be photographed, there were a lot of egrets and herons on the shore, aside from marbled godwits, sandpipers, cormorants, grebes, and many more.  
 And They Decided to Move Farther Away From Me :)
When we had our fill of the white pelicans, we went to what we thought is the center of Shelter Island, which is at the Public Launching Ramp by Humpreys and Bali Hai. We thought that's where the start of the parade. There were 2 reasons why we wanted to be as close to the start, these were:
1. We would be able to take pictures of Christmas lit boats while they are not in motion yet ( easier to photograph).
2. We can leave early. However, you will learn later in this post that we were not at the location of the start of parade. :(

While waiting to get dark, we took a walk along the shore and saw many small boats coming in and out of the launching ramp. To our delightful surprise, we saw some sea lions and pelicans kind enough not to fish on their own but rely on someone's catch! :) 
 Sea Lion and Pelican Waiting for Give-away fish ( haha, but I only saw ice that was emptied from the bag!)
I chose the adjective "kind" to describe the sea lions and brown pelicans dependence on men to give them fish instead of being "lazy" to sound more positive. :) After observing them, I believe I chose the right word "kind" over "lazy" since they were not really "lazy" since they kept on swimming and flying to chase after the boats! 
 Sea Lion Swimming Harder to Catch the Boat ( with the San Diego Skyline )
The brown pelicans here are not afraid of people. I saw some people getting as close to them to have a picture, haha! I guess these pelicans and sea lions thought everyone is there to give them fish, so they don't mind posing with people for pictures. 
 Brown Pelican
Cormorant (?) - sorry, I am confused if this is cormorant or grebe :)
Afterwards, dusk came, and we knew we were not at start of the parade as we wanted. There were very few boats launched in the area, and those few boats that launched in the area all moved South!
 San Diego Bay, Dusk
We could no longer transfer South of where we were since we know we would run out of parking space. Instead, we decided to just watch the parade near the public boat  launching ramp. Though it would be more difficult to take photos of lights at night farther away from us and in motion, we know we still would love the experience. Slowly, other small boats came lining in to watch the parade from the water. 
 Boats in Line to Watch the Parade from the Middle of the Bay
By 5:30 pm, as scheduled, we started to see moving boats in Holiday lights South of us.  They were heading North towards Harbor Island, and passes by in front of the onlooker boats above. Here are some of the boats I captured that night. I apologize for the quality since it was difficult to photograph moving boats in darkness, where we stood perpendicular from their motion. They were moving South to North, while we were viewing at the West looking East. 
 Boat Focused for the Light
 It's The Same Boat Above, but this time I chose to make the San Diego skyline steadier 
( there is just no way for me to make the boat lights steadier with the lighting conditions, distance from us and boat's motion )

San Diego Skyline, Parade of Light Watchers on Boat and Christmas Lit Boat on Parade
San Diego Skyline, Parade of Light Watchers on Boat and Christmas Lit Boat on Parade

Hopefully, next time, we will be at the start point where it is easier to take picture of the forms of the light when the boats are not yet in motion. Hopefully, next time, we will be closer to the boats too. :)
And maybe, there would be more sea lions and pelicans there to entertain us while waiting! :)
Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Digg Delicious Reddit Technorati Mixx Linkedin


  1. I like the white pelican..
    so nice and beautiful white..

  2. I love those shots of the white pelicans, Betchai! They are magical. The light parade must be fun and beautiful to see. What a wonderful post to start my day!

  3. I agree with,Betchai taking picture in the evening is more challenging and you always need tripod. I love how you frame the pelican picture.Perfect.

  4. The parade of lights looks absolutely amazing.

  5. Fantastic shots of those white pelicans doing their synchronized swimming routines. The night photos are also wonderfully captured. Thumbs up again betchai.

  6. I love their formation! Stunning shots as always!

  7. I adore those white pelicans! It's amazing to see the parade of lights. One can only appreciate as much when they have been snapped beautifully. Well done as always :-)

  8. OMG~I have so fascinated. How come you get to snap pictures of the birds syncronised fishing. :D

  9. The boat-lighting at night is really mesmerizing. :D

  10. watching creatures on and in water gives a refreshing feeling to any stressed soul. thanks for sharing :)


  11. I may never get the chance to see pelicans here so it quite wonderful to see your captured images of them.

  12. :) those shots are awesome as they are Betchai, I love your "maybe" thoughts and the way you talked about the sea lions and the pelicans who were waiting for food to be thrown to them being not that really lazy, you always find the goodness in everyone even in wildlife...the synchronized fishing of those Pelicans is simply awesome! and gee I just love that close up photo of one of them! Enjoyed the virtual parade of lights...made me remember my photo shoot akin to it with my digicam hahaha, no great capture for me then...maybe next time we will go to the start of he parade too! that is a great idea! counting the days here!!!! weeeee......the San Diego skyline is like no other indeed....:D thank you for another awesome tour at the joys of simple life :)

  13. Wow all of the shots are awesome. The lights are pretty and the birds are cute...

  14. Love capture of the pelicans. Heads down!!!Cool.

  15. Funny.

    The Pelicans are having a meeting.

    Who takes minutes?

  16. wow!!! no wonder you waited to get dark, because of the festive boats with the decorations they have...

  17. they seemed to have a mind of their own like a person, its amazing

  18. I am amazed of how white pelicans do get their food. I like the idea of cooperative fishing among them.

    The parade of lights is really amazing by just reading your description and by looking at your photos above.

  19. The White Pelicans are really like synchronizing, maybe they are the one who really get the first synchronize and some of the swimmers just copied it. LOL hehehehe thanks for posting some pictures, I really feel like I am also touring San Diego.

  20. wow this is the kind of parade that i want to see. i am not sure if we have a parade of lights here, but i dont think we would go if there is one, because hubby hates crowds, and i dont think its safe for the kids. but i sure love to see the parade of lights in San Diego. beautiful photos sis!

  21. Those pelicans..... better than Synchronized swimming.

  22. great pictures as always! love those pelican shots, very detailed---i bet you enjoyed watching and taking pictures of them! love to see parade like that...thanks for sharing!