Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Willet (Tringa semipalmata)

Willet in flight
Another harbinger of spring is the arrival of the , the Willet is a large shorebird, which announces its presence with a series of piercing calls that announce their presence - pill-will-willet.  They also have a number of other calls: when approached - high-pitched, agitated kip-kip-kip, wiek, and kreeliii alarm calls.  Willits can be recognized in flight by their boldly patterned black and white wings.  Willits are a large stocky shorebird with gray legs, and they long, straight, dark and stout bill.  During the breeding season, the portion of the bill closest to the face can be white in color.  Breeding plumage adults are grayish-Brown with darker markings.  While the non-breeding adults are plainer gray above.  There are two subspecies of Willets, the Eastern and Western.  Here in Massachusetts, especially during fall migration.  We will end up with both species.  Eastern Willets will breed in the coastal salt marshes, barrier beaches and on islands.  Western Willets move inland to nest in grasslands and prairies near freshwater.
Pair of Willets on the rock calling

Willet.  On rock with its wings up showing the distinctive patent

Willet, looking skyward for a predator

Willet in a Evergreen calling

Close-up of a Willets face

Willet standing on a post

During our birding walk on Tuesday, Willits were the most common shorebird that was present on Gooseberry Neck and Allens Pond Audubon Sanctuary.  There were a few piping plovers and least sandpipers and the yearly Clapper Rail made its presence known in the pannes at Allen Pond.

Warning: ticks are back in force, after walking through the brush on Gooseberry, I pulled about a dozen from my pants.  So remember take precautions against TICKS.