Our Willets have returned

Willet foraging in the Gulf of Mexico on Egmont Key National Wildlife RefugeWillet foraging in the Gulf of Mexico on Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 300mm, natural light

Yesterday for the first time this season I saw and heard Willets on Antelope Island State Park. Their pill-will-willet calls will soon resonate all along the causeway, the shore of the island and higher into the Sagebrush and grasses.

When the Willets wintered in Florida I would see them foraging in the Gulf of Mexico, tidal lagoons and Spartina marshes. The Willet above was photographed on Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge which is a spoil island a ferry ride away from Fort De Soto County Park. In 2009 there was a pair of eastern Willets that successfully nested and raised young at Fort De Soto and I believe that was the first time it had been recorded in that location. I saw the young Willets once but they were hidden within the marsh.

Willet on the rocks of Antelope Island State ParkWillet on the rocks of Antelope Island State Park – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The Willets here in Utah breed and nest in the grasslands near ponds or water or close to sagebrush. In the spring the Willets perch high on the sagebrush or rocks and call. And call. And call. I photographed this Willet on the dark rocks near the turn off to Frary Peak Trail a few years ago and although the bird is small in the frame I have always enjoyed this image because it shows the habitat where I find Willets in Utah and I also like the raised wings.

The Willets I saw yesterday were too far away to be photographed but I know I will have them in my viewfinder soon.


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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. Pingback: A Willet and Redstem Filaree

  2. gorgeous patterns on the underside of that wing, Mia!!!!

  3. I like birds of prey they are good hunters for there prey from holly Barnes

  4. Mia, I would so love to go birding with you! We are still awaiting their return to the east coast here in Maine. I know they come up as far as Massachusetts. I’m not sure if they make it this far. further research is needed now! Very nice pics. I like the one splashing through the water up to its knees! I am so glad that I know where Frary peak is because I can just imagine it! I love antelope island, but I have already told you that several times. (sigh.)

  5. Just wonderful – and the plumage pattern under the wing is so unexpected.

  6. Nice detail in the first image, but like Patty I am partial to the second image for all the reasons she stated so well.

  7. Both lovely images! Low angle is always good!

  8. wonderful image…Love how the coloration of the bird echoes the colors in the rocks, the raised wing position… showing underwing detail, the phragmites showing the direction of the wind, and, as usual, the composition.

  9. The Willets have landed. They have a pattern of their underwings. Fantastic photos.

  10. Superb photo.

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