Slam dunk! Shadow of doomed fish looms over pelican’s ‘basketball hoop’ beak before hungry bird gobbles it up

A zoo goer has snapped the exact moment the shadow of a doomed fish loomed over a pelican’s ‘basketball hoop’ bill before the hungry bird gobbled it up – in a lunchtime SLAM DUNK.

In the ‘comical’ snaps the complete outline of the pelican’s fish supper can be seen looming over the white water bird’s huge throat pouch which stretches out like a net.


Retired detective inspector Brian Boyes, 63, captured the funny sequence of shots on a visit to Paignton Zoo, Devon, last weekend.

Brian, of Beccles, Suffolk, said: “Paignton Zoo is on of the best zoos I have ever been to. I’ve been there many times and I’ve taken photos of the pelicans eating time and time again.

“But to get the exact moment the whole shadow of the fish was looming over the pelican’s beak, I was really pleased. As soon as I looked back through the pictures, I thought ‘this is great’.

“The pelican’s beaks are amazing. The bottom jaw has a hinge on it so when it’s closed it looks normal but then they can stretch it out. It’s really impressive, it looks like a hoop.


“It’s like a net so it can scoop up and catch all the fish. It’s phenomenal – but also really quite funny.

“You can’t look at the photos without smiling, they are really comical. The bird’s tufts of feathers of his head really add to it too.

“The pelicans get their fish at two o’clock every day and it’s a really popular sight. You get all the kids gathered around going ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ so it’s quite difficult to get in position to take the photos.


“I was there to see all the animals but this particular set of shots came out really well. Some days you can take a hundred photos and delete 89.”

A lifelong love for fishing and the great outdoors first sparked Brian’s love of wildlife but it was his career in the police force that taught him the ins and outs of getting a good photo.

During his career, Brian completed a 10-week course which included modules on forensics, fingerprints practical murder enquiry and photography.

Having the technical knowhow and his passion for nature inspired Brian to get into photography as a hobby when he retired five and a half years ago and he hasn’t looked back since.


Brian said: “I have been interested in fishing all through my life, even as a boy, and that really started my interest in wildlife.

“Being out and spending a lot of time on the river banks seeing kingfishers and herons sparked a really passion for nature. If it’s got fur or feathers I’m interested. I’m not a people person.

“But it was working for the police force that really got me into photography. Doing the course and understanding the workings of a camera really gave me a kick up the backside.

“And when I retired I got into it seriously as a hobby, I even sell photos now occasionally for postcards and canvases.

“Photography is a bit like fishing, you go out and you don’t know what you’re going to catch. Some days you come back with nothing, other days you come back with fantastic shots.

“Either way just being outside and around nature it’s great, it’s the whole package.”