Pinkie: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge's resident flamingo

Flamingo takes up residence after Hurricane Michael

I was planning a trip to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in early February, mainly to shoot the lighthouse. So I called my buddy Roger Cook, a Florida Panhandle photog who works that area often, to get the lowdown.

"There's also a flamingo that hangs out in the pond next to the lighthouse," Roger said as we talked.

That made me pause.

"Do you mean a roseate spoonbill?" I asked. I mean, there aren't any wild flamingos in the Florida Panhandle.

"No," he said. "I mean a flamingo."

He said Pinkie, as locals dubbed the bird, blew in on the winds of Hurricane Michael in 2018 and just never left.


Still, I headed to the refuge not really thinking much about the possibilities of shooting a flamingo. I was focused on sunrises, sunsets and St. Marks Lighthouse.

I was wowed by the beauty of the refuge. In fact, my second visit was for sunrise and I ignored the lighthouse to shoot a cool shot of a palm tree with the marsh stretching to the sunrise. The shot turned out great.

After the colors faded from the sky, I was packing up when I glanced across the road to a pond to see glow of color: That flamingo was feeding on the far side of the pond.

And I mean it was really glowing. The bright pink plumage was just incredible in the morning light.

So I grabbed my 300mm and Nikon D500, and started shooting. Soon, however, I realized there was a trail on the other side of the pond, much closer to the bird.

I set up no more than 50 yards from Pinkie. It was just incredible!

I guess I owe Roger an apology. Honestly, I still sorta doubted him after our conversation.

Glad Pinkie showed up to set me straight!

Flamingo Strut

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Feeding Flamingo

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Pink Reflected

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Shake it Off

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Flamingo Grace

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