Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Western Willets nesting beside a flooded Saskatchewan field

Flooded furrows, where we saw 
the Western Willets. © SB
As Saskatchewan shifts from dry land to lake country, new sites for shore birds surface — like the flooded furrows in this field, where a pair of Western Willets nested this summer.

The Willets stood guard over their turf, hailing passers-by on the grid road with piercing alarm calls hurled from hiding spots in the grass, and then taking turns to launch up to circle overhead and berate us. 

We weren't trying to bother them... We were just out walking on a fairly busy gravel grid road. And if the Willets hadn't sounded their presence so defensively and noisily, we likely wouldn't have even realized that they were there! 

But how beautiful to see them fly, with their striking dark and white wing patterns! 

Western Willet, circling overhead to scare us away from the nest
— while alerting us to its presence.  © SB 

I never saw the Western Willets actual nest, or any young birds. If there were eggs or fledglings, they were well hidden — at least from those like me, who kept our distance, on the edge of the road. 

And then one day, they were not there. I don't know if a predator found them, or if it was simply time to leave the nest or migrate. But when we walked along that road, Willets no longer followed us, circling with their cries. 

Western Willet, on a Saskatchewan grid road.
(I was very startled when it landed not far from me, 

and stared at me and my camera.) © SB

Can you see the Western Willet? Maybe not, 
if you were out walking at the edge of the field, without a camera or binoculars.... © SB

What are these birds? Western Willet Chevalier semipalmé.
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada  
Photo dates: July 6 and 7, 2014. 


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