Six years ago today – Pelicans, Godwits and Dowitchers

Short-billed Dowitcher feeding on the shore of the GulfShort-billed Dowitcher feeding on the shore of the Gulf – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Six years ago today I was sand crawling on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico at Fort De Soto’s north beach photographing pelicans, Dowitchers, marbled godwits and more. The water was choppy that day and there was a strong sea breeze coming in off of the water but that didn’t stop the birds from their normal activity nor did it stop me from flopping down in the wet sand with my lens aimed at the winged wonders before me.

This Short-billed Dowitcher kept one eye on me as it probed the sand with its bill looking for prey. Even though it was June this bird didn’t show any sign of being in breeding plumage but I love their nonbreeding plumage too.

Brown Pelican in the surfBrown Pelican in the surf – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

This adult Brown Pelican landed on a barely exposed sandbar in front of me and preened for a bit and then fluffed up its wet feathers. The pelican had probably been diving for fish before it came into rest and preen.

Foraging Marbled GodwitForaging Marbled Godwit – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

There were loads of Marbled Godwits on the shoreline foraging for food and as I laid in the sand they would approach me as they probed into the sand looking for tiny Coquinas to swallow.

I like to look back into my files some times to see what I was photographing, just a nice walk down Memory Lane. It was a wonderful morning on the north beach!


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Stunning photos, Mia. I love the Pelican photo!

  2. Beautiful birds, beautiful water! I miss both!!!

  3. Just beautiful. Megathanks.

  4. Jane Chesebrough

    I would find the water birds very challenging to differentiate, but as I looked at these two I started to notice the bill colouration and legs, then head and feathers. Still not easy but interesting especially the behaviours which you have documented so well. The waters are a huge change from the semi arid lands of Utah-must have been quite a shock at first.I am sure, however, as soon as you were capturing the image of a bird where you are now that you were totally in the moment.

  5. Lovely, Mia! Are the Dowitch and Marbled Godwit in the same family? They really look like it. I love all Pelicans and this is a really gorgeous shot!

  6. Beautiful light and detail in these images, Mia. I would love to spend time at Fort De Soto lying in the sand getting such great views one of these days.

  7. You should get Ron to go with you to Fort De Soto. Let me know when you go, I want to come watch the two of you photographing the birds on the north beach.

  8. Beautiful photographed.

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