I received a phone call last week about an interesting spotting. The caller, a local man named Ron Burton said he snapped some interesting shots of a couple of birds at Lake Vasona, where he and a group of bicyclists ride through from Campbell into Los Gatos. I was intrigued.
"The geese flap their wings. They don’t soar like these birds," he first told me.
Burton, who lives on the border of San Jose and Campbell near Moreland School District says he and his group of cyclists spotted a pair of pelicans at the lake about two weeks ago. The photos included here were taken by Burton after his regular Campbell Farmers Market stroll in the late morning on Sunday, Aug. 28.
From the looks of these two birds, they appear to be Brown Pelicans, probably juveniles.
"A Brown Pelican is not necessarily an inland bird but Lake Vason is not that far from the Bay," says Nina Merrill, wildlife biologist at Santa Clara Valley Water District. "It's certainly not unheard of but certainly not common to see them here. That's probably why the caller notified you. It's certainly notable."
According to information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, the Brown Pelican is one of seven Pelican species and is typically found near the ocean, not inland. It is the only dark-colored pelican and also the only one that dives from the air into the water to hunt for its food.
"You see them hunting and getting fish," Burton says of his sightings. "Beak first, they'd dive and then you'd see something in their pouch."
The group returned to the spot on Monday, but the birds had gone.
"We've seen all kinds of animals on the trail," he says. "Deer, various types of birds, even smelled skunks. But we've never seen pelicans."