I know that as a wildlife enthusiast, I am supposed to love all wildlife and I do. But I do have my favourites and I do keep a secret wishlist. Somewhere at the top of the list, lies the Pelicans.

The fascination for them kept increasing with every encounter, virtual and real. I saw them for the first time at the Byculla zoo, as a child. It was the largest bird in the aviary, not to mention the prettiest looking. Reminded me of pale pink clouds and I just wanted to cuddle one of those soft fluffy things. I kept asking to go and again and I would never budge away from the aviary. No other part of the park fascinated me at all.

And then I was introduced to Nigel by Disney Pixar. And I fell in love all over again. Between befriending fish, being a gossip king, being a dentistry nerd and carrying Nemo’s Dad and Dory in his mouth to protecting them from the gulls, destroying the dental clinic, he did it all ! He has it all figured out and with a kind heart too ! Made me want to know all about Pelicans. I started watching all documentaries available.

I did see them again at Chimelong Zoo. But yet another exciting encounter was at Lal Baugh in Bangalore. Surprising isn’t it! But the single pair was so far away. It only increased my curiosity to watch them in the wild.

That chance came with my trip to Bharatpur. While we explored I the park in the chilly winter morning, I could see indistinct shapes amidst the mist that rose from the water body. It was like a dream. As I moved closer and the mist cleared, I saw a flock of rosy pelicans or great white pelican. It was all I had hopped for and more. They went about their routine giving me a chance to absorb all their antiques – going about flapping their large wings or giving me a full view of their large throat pouches or preening. Occasionally wading into the water to fish. Some were even juvenile.

On that day I could have asked for anything and it would have come true. I wished that I could see some of them in flight or land from a flight and I got to see both the spectacles. I ogled at them till it was time for me to divert my attention to the other marvels that the park had to offer.