Our heartfelt prayers for those impacted by the recent Laura hurricane landfall. We have spent many vacations over the years enjoying the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast. We’ve witnessed firsthand the devastation to Rockport and the surrounding areas thanks to another hurricane that ripped through the area. Will never forget seeing an entire remains of a city literally piled up for miles in the center median of the main highway. I am not sure how much damage Laura inflicted yet, but I did hear Anahuc NWR was hit – one of our favorite places to bird.
In tribute to our Gulf friends I bring you..
This series of shots was taken at Galveston Island State Park and nearby Bolivar Peninsula from our trip down there in January 2017. The Willet is not a new bird to the list and was actually featured back in Nov 2019 (link here). Fortunately for us, these rather regal looking birds are pretty common in the States. With the exception of the Eastern mainland and the upper west corner, these long legged shorebirds can be found at some port during the season either in their northern breading grounds or as they pass through to the coast for the winter months.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about our Yoga practicing Willet.
One thing I have always found with these Willets is they are extremely accommodating to photographers. Unlike the Warblers and those hyper beach running Plovers, these birds go about their business without an ounce of concern for the large black barrel pointed at them. Truthfully, they seem to like the attention and will gladly ham it up if they are alone – now, add in one or more other specimens and they either start harassing each other or turn completely docile.
I happened to find this one going solo out on the Rail Trail on the way to the observation tower. Must have spent 30 minutes with this specimen as it graciously went through a series of poses to the left, to the right, standing, strutting, dancing, parkour, Tai Chi, yoga – it was quite the show.
Unfortunately, something happened to the sensor during the non-traditional shots and they ended up too blurry to include in the post. A definite shame as its Forearm-Stand Scorpion Yoga Pose was damn impressive. Talk about nimble birds. Note, I did get a decent shot as it was getting into position. Just imagine the image with its bill parallel to the ground and its long legs stretched over the back of its head. Hurts my back just remembering it.
The key thing about Willets is you can always identify them if you can spot them taking flight. Although their non-breeding plumage is basically a grey/brown wash atop a white base at rest, they are actually hiding very distinctive black markings on their wings. Apologies for not having flight shots in this particular series (it was quite content to walk along the shore and boardwalk the entire time I was there). The best I can describe it is if you dipped the tip of their wings in black ink and then spray painted a white line to the tail feathers. The contrast of the fight pattern from the tucked feathering is an instant ID for me. The longer bluish grey legs and dual-toned large straight bill are other good indicators. I also think their eyelids are quite cute.
I did have a shot from December of that year in South Padre that at least shows how much the black tips stand out. As mentioned before, there was more than one of them so they were basically just standing around doing absolutely nothing.
Need to call it a post as I should get some rest before more testing of the knee during tomorrow’s morning run – definitely took some internal damage in the recent fall and it doesn’t help the healing process keeps resetting as my other tests this week have managed to reopening the wounds. As a parting tidbit, the male Willet takes responsibility for spending the nighttime incubation of the eggs. Now isn’t that a clever way to keep the husband from visiting the neighborhood bar ha!
Stay safe everyone and again, our hopes and prayers to those impacted by Laura.