Three Willets

After a night of cold, strong, blustery winds that rattled palmettos against the windows and even sent some branches crashing down to the deck, this morning dawned clear, with a deep-blue sky. It still was cold and breezy, but brightly sunny, and by early afternoon, the ocean looked calm and peaceful, with gentle waves rolling in. Walking east on the beach, I again passed Sanderlings, Dunlins, and lots of Willets, gulls, pelicans and dozens of silvery-white Forster’s Terns in flight, many close over the line of the surf, and more were further and further out, as far as I could see. Two Osprey flew up and down the beach the whole time I was out, chattering their high, clear calls.

With four Sanderlings running along the edge of the waves were two Piping Plovers and several Semi-palmated Plovers, very similar, but a darker, richer brown. It was a good chance to watch the two together and compare them. In winter plumage they can be confusing, but seeing them together today, the differences were more clear.

Suddenly three Willets flew up together with their clear, sharp calls and dramatic black and white stripes in the wings. They settled at the edge of the surf very close to where I stood and immediately all tucked their heads back under a wing and stood on one leg in the edge of the surf. As they settled, all three hopped and wobbled several times to get into position or maybe to get their balance, but they never put a second leg down, as well as I could see. They got settled and stood there, heads tucked away, taking a mid-afternoon rest.

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