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Digressions: My Life in 500 Words or Less

May 15, 2018




Pelicans in Kentucky.

            No, really.

            There are pelicans in Kentucky. At least a few months a year.

            You might already know this, but, if not, I guess this deserves an explanation.

            You see, for many years, Rebecca and I have taken annual fishing and camping trips to Land Between the Lakes. The main attractions for me are Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

            If you haven’t been to Land Between the Lakes, here’s the thing: it’s more than just land. Between lakes. The 170,000-acre national recreational area in western Kentucky is so huge that it extends into Tennessee. It includes a nature station, planetarium, hunting, horseback riding, historical sites, an elk and bison prairie, scenic drives and hiking and biking trails, just to name a few things.

            But one of the most outstanding features of the LBL is its wildlife.

            On our first trip ever to LBL Rebecca and I witnessed a bald eagle fly across the bay where I was fishing. Since then we’ve seen several bald eagles, once in a group of four.

            It’s not uncommon, as in our last trip to LBL just a couple of weekends ago, to see deer and turkey. On one trip, a bobcat darted across the dirt road in front of us as we drove to find a fishing spot.

           While I enjoy the fact that all these attractions are there, I’m primarily there for the fishing. Bass fishing, to be precise. And I’ve caught my share, including a 6-pounder.

            So during this last trip — which unfortunately was not producing any largemouth bass for all my efforts — we made a stop at Barkley Dam. And that’s when we saw them.

            I had to look twice to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing. I recalled having seen a few birds at one of the harbors that looked like pelicans, but I was doubtlessly in fishing mode as I drove past them and didn’t give them much thought.

            This time they were lined along the rocky coast near the dam. Some were swimming in the water. They were numerous and unmistakable, but their presence still hit me with considerable force, a jarring surrealistic scene.

            Here we were at the spillway of a lake in western Kentucky at the beginning of May, and a bird probably most associated with Louisiana and Florida has taken over the whole dam area. Pun intended.

            According to an article I found from Bird Watcher’s Digest, the American White Pelican was once rare in Kentucky but these days “flocks of pelicans floating along lazily over the vast waters of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake are a common sight, especially in March and April and again from late October to mid-December.”

            Like I said, you might already know this, and maybe it is not a big deal to anybody but me. But seeing something I consider unexpected represents hope.

            The fact there are pelicans in Kentucky means anything is possible.

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