La Jolla just north of San Diego, CA has gotten to be the hot spot for photographing Brown Pelicans. Best months would be Winter, December through end of March. During this time, the males have colorful plumage and the red neck area really pops in a photograph. The main area that photographers go is a cliff area about 1/2 mile North of La Jolla Cove, near the intersection of Coast St and Prospect Place, near the Gold Fish Point Cafe. The cafe gets its name from the gold color Garibaldi fish that is the California state marine fish. You can actually see them below the cliffs in the water. When the light hits them just right you can see these gold patches moving around in the water.
Best time to photograph is in the early morning from Sunrise to mid-morning. The Pelicans land here to rest and many will be preening their feathers.
There is a small wooden platform area but a gate allows you to go past the fence but is you get too close they will scatter. You will also find a lot of Gulls and Cormorats. On the weekends you will find a few of your photography friends sharing the cliff with you. Most people are carefull not to get in each others way and not scare away the birds. On this trip around 10:30 AM we had a guy walking his dog that brought him into the gated area and walked him around the point scaring away every bird. Needless to say our shoot was over. I felt like this guy probably came down every morning to scare away the birds and irritate the photographers.
This morning there were not many birds flying into the area so it was hard to get them in flight. I was told when there is no wind, they don’t fly as much. I was able to get a lot of images of birds preening and posing on the rocks. It can be hard to catch but the head throws the birds do can be a great shot. They throw their head back and beak up and open. It can be quite colorful. Since you are on a high cliff with the ocean as a background, you have to watch for what else may be in the water. The area was full of people with kayaks, surf boards, swimmers and other birds flying, get any of those in the backround and your image is ruined.
The images taken here were done with a Nikon D7000 with 400 mm lens.