A quartet of brown pelicans soars along the Corpus Christi Ship Channel next to Charlie's Pasture. The birds, at one time near extinction, have come back in large numbers. They often cruise the rising air currents along the bank of the ship channel and are often the first to greet visitors arriving in Port Aransas via the ferry. The birds will be among species counted during the annual Christmas Bird Count on Monday, Dec. 18. See story on Page 2A.