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on Apr 22, 2011 in Wildlife Photography

A Willet, Now, Eastern Sierras?

I love shorebirds and have traveled north (as in Alaska / Canada) to photograph them on their nesting grounds many times. That’s because I love seeing them in their breeding plumage. So we were photographing the clouds in the last posting when I turned and looked over in the river to see a bird silhouetted. I said, “Willet?” How could that be, in April, here? It wasn’t moving fast and I began to wonder if it got caught in the blizzard and blown to where it was now.

I burrowed Sharon’s binoculars and sure enough, it was not only a Willet, but one in breeding plumage! Well, had a heartbeat or two of hesitation, I went back to the truck and grabbed the 200-400 w/TC-17e and headed over to the river bank. It wasn’t a great photo opp with the backlighting but this was the only the 2nd time I’ve seen them in breeding plumage and first time to try to photograph them. So I went for it. As first, it hunkered down and then it perked up and decided to start foraging. I was crouching down, shooting handheld off one knee.

After a few minutes of foraging, it had walked right up to me. While not the greatest Willet photo I’ve ever taken, it is the first in breeding plumage and the first in the Eastern Sierra so I’m darn happy. After this, I scooted away and left it to its foraging. The light was just getting worse and there was no way I could improve it and I was supposed to be teaching landscape photography so off I went. What a cool treat though. Just goes to show you that you get out with your camera, something will appear.

Photos captured by D3x, 200-400VR2 w/TC-17e on Lexar UDMA digital film