Vranjina’s Pelicans

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Balkan Wildlife

We came back the other evening down the main road from Podgorica to Virpazar across Lake Skadar.  Just before the small fishing village of Vranjina, there is a section of open water fringed by spring green willows that over the past two weeks has had a pair, sometimes three, Dalmatian pelicans.  These have always been loitering on the far side, away from the busy road and the village, near stark dead trees full of great cormorants and their untidy stick nests. As we passed, I saw a pair of pelicans languidly circling low over the lake; they looked large in the evening light, but by the time we had turned off they had gone to be replaced by a circling, clattering of jackdaws heading to roost.  We hung around but only managed to disturb a pair of anxious garganey ducks on the edge of the lake.

Today, under a warm wind and bright blue sky we walked the bumpy, gravel track along the edge of the water to see if we could find the pelicans. On the outward journey we saw marsh harriers, with plenty of males now around, as well as fleeting views of a rather plain brown small eagle, perhaps a lesser-spotted eagle. The blackcaps, Cetti’s warblers and solitary black-eared wheatear and hoopoe entertained us and we headed back with no pelicans to record. As we neared the car, a pair of large white pelicans circled in the far distance and one headed our way, where it proceeded to circle right above us before gaining height and working its way back across the water into the wind. What luck! The big bird reminded me of a long obsolete but famous old bomber, the Sally B, doing one last, slow circuit over its Bedfordshire aerodrome.

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Dalmatian pelican aloft.

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