Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pelican Heaven

Saturday. High season in Olympic National Park. People everywhere. And pelicans. Warm enough for water shoes, and to walk in the water all the way to Hole-in-the-Wall. When I got out there, lots of pelicans, diving and calling just out past the seastacks, and right beyond the surf line. You could see the flash of fishes in their beaks; once I saw one tilt his head and let a larger fish drop into his pouch so he looked momentarily just like a cartoon pelican...

Pelicans, Rialto Beach Near Hole-in-the-Wall, July 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
More pelicans (Click for larger image.)
Plenitude of pelicans (Click for larger image.)

Did I mention it is the height of the season? The sun was out, tides were moderate, and all over the Olympic Peninsula people suddenly needed to go to the ocean to walk to Hole-in-the-Wall. In the winter, on a weekday, in the rain, you can be out there and pretend you are "the only man under the eye of heaven" (which is Peter Matthiessen's last line in At Play in the Fields of the Lord or so I strongly remember it). Not yesterday. It is best to be glad that so many people know the place, love it, might understand why it needs to be protected.

People everywhere (Click for larger image.)

No good pictures of the little beach right before Hole-in-the-Wall. Too bad. The first time I saw it, I thought , "I'm not sure I've ever been on such a beautiful beach"; and that might still be true...

Hole-in-the-Wall, Rialto Beach, July 23, 2011 (many better pictures elsewhere in the blog (1)(2)(3) (Click for larger image.)

I flung the camera up and took many pictures of empty sea and sky, and blurry pelicans, cruising and diving. And seventeen little movies, two of which almost show ... look closely, you'll see them dive.

Pelican movie #17, Rialto Beach, July 23, 2011.
Pelican movie #16, Rialto Beach, July 23, 2011.

A ranger came along. I asked what the pelicans were eating. "Fish," he said. Oh, great. They are now hiring dolts to be Park Rangers. "What sort of fish," I asked. "Lots of kinds of fish under there." Thanks, dude. I'll ask Bob Boekelheide tomorrow what would be some good guesses. If he doesn't know he'll just say, "I don't know."

On the way home, stopped as usual at the pullout over the Quileute River, and got online to check email and twitter. It's my new bad habit. Apparently a handful of hours is the longest I can stand not to be connected. The maps say Quillayute River, but the tribe is the Quileute, and the river is theirs, as is James Island visible off the beach, in the background on the other side of the jetty...

Quileute River Movie. No seals, no eagles. Lots of green.

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