What are Dalmatian pelicans?
The Dalmatian pelican is the largest of the pelican species and although their population is in decline, they thrive on lake Kerkini. An adult can weigh up to 15 kgs and the wingspan can reach 3m 50cm. They are a migrating species but now that the local fishermen have built a nesting platform and have started feeding them, they now stay all year.
How to photograph the pelicans:
We photographed the birds from a small boat and from the shore. the boat is ideal for up to 6 photographers but 4-5 is better. I preferred the boat with low sides as it allowed us to hold our cameras just above the water line if we wanted to. It’s also best to have a boat with no canopy, which means you follow the birds in flight without having any bars in the shot. I liked to be well out into the lake where we had opportunities to photograph the birds with different backgrounds and light. As the boat driver has a basket of fish aboard, the birds are inclined to follow the boat which makes for spectacular shots of them taking off, gliding and landing. Our boat driver Niko, is a real expert and understands what photographers need whilst making sure the birds aren’t stressed.
From the shore, we attracted several birds to us by throwing some fish into the water. It doesn’t take long before 10 or more birds are just a few metres away. Shots of them simply floating or reaching forward to grab a fish are possible. Action shots of the birds catching the fish in flight has to be done from the boat as they are flying alongside.