Pelican Head Throws and The Earl of Clinton « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Pelican Head Throws and The Earl of Clinton

This all-new card includes only images created on my JAN 2022 visit to San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022/23 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPTs

San Diego IPT #1. 3 1/2 DAYS: WED 21 DEC thru the morning session on Saturday 24 DEC 2022. $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 5.

San Diego IPT #2. 4 1/2 DAYS: SAT 7 JAN thru the morning session on WED 11 JAN 2023: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 2.

San Diego IPT #3: 3 1/2 DAYS: FRI 20 JAN thru the morning session on MON 23 JAN 2023: $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

Please e-mail for information on personalized pre- and post-IPT sessions.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Ducks; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions (both depending on the current regulations and restrictions). And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on exposure along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode so that you can get the right exposure every time (as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant). Or two seconds with SONY zebras … And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of those opportunities. Depending on the weather, the local conditions, and the tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

These IPTs will include four or five 3-hour morning photo sessions, three or four 1 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, and three or four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Deposit Info

A $599 deposit is required to hold your slot for one of the 2022/23 San Diego IPTs. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due three months before the trip.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.

What’s Up?

I woke very early on Thursday, packed my suitcase, packed the cooler and box of miscellaneous stuff, and drove over to my AirBnB in Gulfport. Greg Hritzo and wife Jenny showed up at 4:15pm. We headed over to DeSoto to meet Monte Brown who wisely cancelled the Hurricane Ian Fort DeSoto IPT two weeks ago. I had invited both Greg and Monte for a free a1/200-600 scouting session. Monte is new to Sony and Greg had never held an a1 before! Greg has been away from bird photography for 14 years. We had a very interesting and somewhat productive session.

Today is Friday 7 October 2022, the first day of the #2 DeSoto Fall IPT. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare and makes one hundred ninety-six days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!


Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

This image was created on 18 January 2022 on a San Diego IPT. Standing at full height, I used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 640. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/500 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was about 1.3 -stop too dark (gasp!) AWB at 10:10:10am on a rare cloudy morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Brown Pelican, non-breeding adult head throw

Head Throws

As regular readers know, head throws are the holy grail of pelican photography. All three North American pelican species engage in this behavior, but catching either the Brown Pelicans in the east or on the Gulf, or the American White Pelicans in the act, is next to impossible. With the Pacific-race birds in La Jolla, at least you have a chance. My goal for my five-week trip this winter is to get some head throw images of breeding plumage adults that are better than the BBC WPOTY-honored ones I made on film way back when.

Join me on an IPT or an In-the-Field morning at La Jolla to learn how and when to anticipate and photograph head throws. And a whole lot more!

Loren Waxman

Via e-mail from multiple IPT veteran Loren Waxman


I really loved the San Diego IPT. I loved all the bird life & getting to see everything at such close range. Sometimes, when sitting close to the pelicans, I would just put my camera down & stare at them. I felt like a tiny part of their group for just a second.

The instruction was top notch!!

(1) You gave me the confidence to handle my first big lens. Getting used to all the tricks from traveling with it in the car to slipping down muddy hills with it perched over my shoulder on the tripod.

(2) I really appreciate all the time you took with me before the trip getting my gear together. Having the right equipment made a world of difference & I’m grateful for what you shared with me.

(3) Once I managed to get my lens & camera to the scene in one piece, you were terrific at setting the group up for success by having us in the right place at the right time with the right lenses, wind, sun & settings. When I look at my photos by capture time, I can see the improvements in my focusing, exposure & composition each day.

(4) You helped me save a bunch of photos from oblivion by educating me about flash cards & paving the way with your connections at Delkin – that was much appreciated.

(5) The Photoshop sessions were extremely helpful for me. While I have Digital Basics, APTATS I & II, Digital Eye Doctor, & the post processing guide, I’m a visual learner. Seeing it done really helped with understanding the written material.

(6) I really enjoyed all the extra time driving around with you, your company, & peppering you with Q’s – photographic & otherwise. You are one-of-a-kind!!!

(7) It was amazing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you taking pictures & to see how things came up on the back of your camera compared to mine (guess who’s were better???).

(8) All-in-all, I had a blast. I think it’s safe to say that you brought my photographic game up an order of magnitude. I learned so much, from capturing the photos, to critiquing the images, to understanding the details that make or break a good shot, or separate a good shot from a great one.

Thanks again for everything!!! I look forward to doing it again!


Loren’s Work

Loren has been on Instagram before anyone ever heard of it. He is earlofclinton with 3559 followers! You can see his fine work here. Many of his avian and landscape images are spectacular. San Diego was his first IPT and he came on many more. He photographed crane colts at my home, did the Galapagos Photo Cruise of a Lifetime, the UK Puffins and Gannets trip, a land-based Falklands trip, a DeSoto IPT, probably a Bosque IPT, and probably a few more that I do not remember. He lives in Bend Oregon and does mountain rescue work in the winter. I’m not sure if he is still doing any real estate/architectural work as I have not heard from him in many years.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

1 comment to Pelican Head Throws and The Earl of Clinton

  • Artie
    I never knew what you were talking about on head throws until i was blessed to have seen one on the American White Pelican and of all places here in Wisconsin, i was a few degrees left of direct center as he faced me but i captured his throw and it was really sweet, i believe i shared a pic of that thru your cell. So it is amazing to see, but nature is amazing and so very beautiful!
    #1 is so amazing and such detail and the eye 🙂 Hope you capture the wow photo’s in San Diego as well as those in the group! You wow us all with your work!
    Always with love b

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