Lake Kerkini is famous among birders and photographers for its Pelicans, Dalmatian and White, and his setting of snow-capped mountains in winter (Mount Kerkini in the background). In recent years several images taken in this place won awards in the famous photo contest Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Jari Peltomäki (Endangered Species), Bence Mate).

Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) © Patrick Dieudonne 2012

The history of the Dalmatian Pelican (Dalmatian Pelican, Pelecanus crispus), a globally threatened species with less than 14 000 birds (drainage, persecution), is an unexpected success story at lake Kerkini. The Dalmatian Pelican winters and breeds regularly on the lake now (since 2003), on platforms specially arranged for them (120 chicks in 2010). After some early setbacks, cohabitation with fishermen on the lake is going rather well now. This lake is located north of Greece, 100 km north of Thessaloniki, and is near the Bulgarian border. Normally, it is part of an extension of our Golden Eagles photo trip in Bulgaria (Spatia Wildlife / Voyages et Nature). But it was included in our trip following the exceptional weather conditions that paralyzed the Eastern Europe in late January and early February 2012. The lake and its surroundings offer many opportunities that are not limited to wintering Pelicans - Flamingos and Pygmy cormorants are some species that may be of interest to photographers in this season. But the Dalmatian Pelican, which cohabits with fishermen in some areas provide many opportunities for stunning pictures. Used to fishermen and to take scrap fish, they show very little fear and come to take fish on offer. Wide-angle shots are possible and quite spectacular. I do not personally like too much these pictures of Pelicans with bills pointed skyward, finding them a bit unnatural, but I must admit that the overall effect is spectacular. In this season, the Pelicans are in breeding plumage (red gular pouch and curly head), which gives the images their full potential. These images were taken in a  Spatia Wildlife / Voyages et Nature wildlife  photo trip (travel description here) in January 2012. I used a Nikon D3 and a D700, and several lenses: 24-70/2.8 AFS, AFS 70-200 VRII, 300/2.8 AFI, AFS VR 500 mm. Copyright 2012 Patrick Dieudonne, all rights reserved.

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