Ground effect Photos

Skimming Pelican
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Skimming Pelican

Have you ever seen a Pelican surf? On the land they seem a little comical, but in the air they are amazing. They often fly right along the surface of the water taking advantage of "Ground Effect" an aerodynamic effect giving more lift in close proximity to the surface. It makes sense that they would do this to save energy, but at times they move closer to the breakers, riding the front of the wave just like a surfer. They wait until the last moment to slip gracefully over the top of the wave as it crashes below all gliding without a flap. This evening I caught this guy skimming the surface, but as he slowly flapped he actually ran the tip of his wing through the surface of the water just like a surfer playing in the front of the wave with his or her hand. He wasn't being as playful as some in the breakers but he was very graceful and relaxed. It was a pleasure to watch him and his friends fly off into the sunset.