Willets in Beaverhead County, Montana

These images were taken at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Montana. There were two Willets; an adult and a juvenile, on the shoreline of the lower lake that delighted me.

Juvenile Willet on a lake shoreJuvenile Willet on a lake shore – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

I have a fondness for shorebirds because their beauty and abundance were part of the reason why I got hooked (addicted) to bird photography while I lived in Florida and I’m glad that I still get to see and photograph them in the western U.S.

Adult WilletAdult Willet – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

These two Willets were very relaxed, the juvenile often tucked its bill under the feathers on its back and dozed, the adult took a very long bath.

Juvenile Willet wing liftJuvenile Willet wing lift – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

The juvenile didn’t bathe but it would fluff up and stretch now and then which showed off the striking pattern of the underside of the wings.

Juvenile Willet stretching a wingJuvenile Willet stretching a wing – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light

And the top of the wing too.

Calling adult WilletCalling adult Willet – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x Tc at 357mm, natural light

The adult Willet called several times while I was photographing the two birds, having seen a peregrine Falcon in the area I wondered if the adult might have spotted the falcon but it soon went back to bathing and foraging along the shoreline.

Bathing adult WilletBathing adult Willet – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

What can I say about this image of the adult Willet? I LOVE those ripples!

Juvenile Willet in the shallowsJuvenile Willet in the shallows – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The juvenile Willet’s plumage was soft and beautiful, I like how well this image shows it off.

It won’t be all that long before the Willets will begin their migration south but I know that next spring they will be back again to delight me.

Mia

10 Comments

  1. ingrid July 31, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Willets were the first shorebird I learned to positively identify … walking into a local nature center and asking the docent about the black-and-white wings. They were ever-present back home in SF, and I never see them here. I miss their characteristic look — so perfectly captured here, water ripples and all.

    • Mia McPherson August 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      I hope you get to see Willets again soon Ingrid, I would have missed them a lot when I moved to Utah but fortunately I see them in UT & MT often while they are here. Thanks for your kind comment.

  2. Merrill Ann Gonzales July 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    These photos are wonderful… To achieve that clarity in the feathering of the bird makes the photos really stand out… And to have this series where you can see the movements and actions of the birds is the next best thing to being there. Many thanks.

    • Mia McPherson August 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you Merrill, I appreciate your comments.

  3. Dan Huber July 30, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I just love the Willets, fun birds to watch. Very nice series Mia!

    • Mia McPherson August 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you Dan, they are great fun to watch!

  4. M. Firpi July 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I really like their stretching of their wings. What a descriptive series. I think my Common Sandpiper was a Willet after all, but the white ring around the eye and its smaller size makes me think it might also be a Solitary Sandpiper. It’s just that they seem smaller. Thanks so much for this info. I also went ahead and posted a blog entry today about the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary (where I shot the Willets). It deals more with the pelicans, but tomorrow I will post one about the Red Tailed and Short Winged Hawk in Rehab.

    • Mia McPherson August 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks Maria. Both your posts about the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary were very informative.

  5. Carol Mattingly July 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    You are so right, the plummage is gorgeous. Loved that middle shot the most of the wings extended. Carol

    • Mia McPherson August 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you Carol, the Willets were great fun to photograph

Comments are closed.