Pelican Bay, California, USA is synonymous with solitary existence. In recent months, the Pelican Bay State Prison has been hitting the news, with inmates and social activists challenging the use of isolation to hold prisoners.
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The residents of the Alahalli Lake neighbourhood in Anjanapura-JP Nagar 9th Phase, South Bangalore, have been spectators to solitary existence of a different kind. A real pelican has been observed in the lake for the past two weeks, and yes – all alone. Given its large size, it is difficult for the naked eye to miss.
Solitary Spot-billed Pelican at Alahalli Lake (Pic: Vikash Kumar)
Over the last couple of months, pelican sightings have been reported at several of the Bangalore lakes – from Hebbal and Jakkur in north Bangalore, to Agara, Madiwala and Kaikondrahalli further south.
The pelicans we see in Bangalore are Spot-billed Pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis), that are found in South Asia (including India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand). They are not really “migratory”, but have been found to move between water bodies with trees where they can roost and rest, and where they can find enough fish to eat. According to ornithologist Dr S Subramanya, there are no known instances of pelicans nesting in Bangalore. With threats to their required environment, the species has rapidly declined and is currently classified in IUCN’s Red List as “Near Threatened”.
Pelican in flight at Alahalli Lake (Pic: Vikash Kumar)
Spot-billed Pelican (front), Common Coots (rear) at Alahalli Lake (Pic: Vikash Kumar)
Thanks to Anand Yadwad, Managing Trustee, ALNDT for sharing the news of the pelican sighting.