Marbled Godwit Surprise on Antelope Island

Marbled Godwit and friends at Fort De Soto County ParkMarbled Godwit and friends at Fort De Soto County Park – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/750, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

On the 17th of April I did a post on Marbled Godwits because they are migrating through Utah now to get to their breeding grounds and on that post I mentioned that I saw them often on their wintering grounds in Florida like the foraging Marbled Godwit above that I photographed in a tidal lagoon at Fort De Soto County Park. Quite often the flocks would number 50 or more in one location. In Florida I was able to get close to these shorebirds but more often than not if I just laid still they would approach me. Sure, I got wet and muddy but it was worth it.

Marbled Godwit at Farmington BayMarbled Godwit at Farmington Bay – Nikon D200, f8, 1/750, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

In October of 2010 while photographing birds in the shallow waters of Glover Pond near Farmington Bay a Marbled Godwit seemed to just drop down out of the sky in front of me and the bird was at close range. At first I thought the godwit might be sick because it was late in the year and we had been having issues with botulism but on further thought I believe this was simply a young bird that was migrating to wintering grounds a touch later than the other godwits. It drank water, ate and appeared healthy and I checked eBird and see that it isn’t all that unusual to see them in October according to the data submitted.

This was as close as I had been able to get to a Marbled Godwit here in Utah until four days ago.

Marbled Godwit on Antelope Island State ParkMarbled Godwit on Antelope Island State Park – Nikon D810, f8, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Four days ago while photographing a Willet and gulls in the White Rock Bay area of Antelope Island I saw a big shorebird flying in and suspected that it was a Long-billed Curlew so I trained my lens on the bird and before it landed I realized it was a Marbled Godwit. It flew in close and walked up close several times so I was able to get a nice series of images of this godwit in a grassland habitat.

Marbled Godwits do breed in grasslands north of here and I have seen them at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge but in or near the water. These images are my first of a godwit in a grassy environment.

I was surprised to see this Marbled Godwit on the island but over the years I have learned to expect the unexpected whenever I am out photographing birds!

Life is good.


  1. Chris Rohrer April 24, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Definitely stunners! One of my favorite birds to come through the area.

  2. Patty Chadwick April 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Congratulations on this capture…especially like the first with the soft “bird blobs” in the background…

  3. Nancy Collins April 24, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Love it Mia! I love the swirling pattern on the godwit with the blurred background! Sweet!

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