These Caribbean brown pelicans provide constant inspiration when I drive past a section of Antigua’s north coast, with its seemingly random wooden pilings. With many reefs in the area, the pelicans abound, folding their wings back and diving vertically into the sea to catch a fish – a truly impressive sight. (It is said that as these pelicans keep their eyes open and on their prey when diving, the force of the water gradually erodes the corneas, leading to blindness, so many pelicans starve to death.) To see them skimming just inches over the water’s surface in close formation is quite spectacular.
Often in the company of Caribbean brown pelicans are Laughing Gulls, found in the Americas and the Caribbean. Often referred to as the pelicans’ guardian angels, it seems more likely that they hang about in the hope of getting some scraps of fish from the highly competent pelican fishers!
There is a small, uninhabited island in the north sound of Antigua – Rabbit Island – where the pelicans breed. They seem to choose small trees with very spindly trunks and with both parents and chicks in the nest, they always seem to look about to collapse… the trunks may be spindly but they are very tough and hardy.
Acrylic on wood