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My mother is visiting us this week, and today we took a drive into Calhoun County in Illinois. Part of the journey involved crossing the Mississippi on the Winfield Ferry that runs downstream of Lock & Dam No. 25. As we were driving by the dam, we decided to stop by and have a look at it.

As I scanned the river upstream, I saw a bright white ribbon on a sandbank in the middle. I focused my long lens on this and was astonished to see that the white strip was made up of dozens of pelicans sitting or standing on the narrow sandy bar.

It was a quite a sight – a pelican is not a bird I habitually associate with the Mississippi River. Indeed the only time I've seen them in the wild before was in Florida. It made a very pleasant day rather special.