Sunday, May 10, 2009
Willet - eating
What a wonderful day I had yesterday celebrating International Migratory Bird Day. I started by meeting Dick from Ogden, Utah, at 5 a.m. to visit a sharp-tailed lek for viewing and picture taking. Dick is a gentleman with a lot of knowledge about photography and equipment made mine look sick. Northern Harriers, a Fish and Game truck and a visit by seven antelope kept the sharpies a little nervous and by 7:30 they left the lek.
When I got home a flock of Evening Grosbeaks and a Grackle had joined siskins, finch, robins, blackbirds,sparrows, crossbills and buntings. I had planned on being at Camas National Wildlife Refuge by 8:30, but the beautiful grobeaks and grackle delayed me. Both male and female Evening grosbeaks have already fascinated me. They are one of the most beautiful birds that visit my yard.
At Camas I met many of the Audubon group from Idaho Falls. We watched kestrels, Ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers and Eastern Flycatchers. I decided to drive out through the refuge.
There were only a few shorebirds and waterfowl there. Willets were all scattered along the roads and ponds throughout the refuge. As I was about at the last marsh, I noticed a willet working the newly flooded marsh.
The willet would probe the soft earth with its strong bill eventually finding an earth worm. After the worm was extracted, the willet would grasp it in its bill and run to the nearest water, swish the worm, washing it and then gulping it down. I watched it for about 45 minutes as it gathered nine worms, washed and ate them. From time to time the willet would fly in a circle only to land closer to my truck. It was a great show.
On the way home I visited a Swainson's hawk nest and two Great-horned owl nests. One nest on the Refuge had six and the other had three owlets. Just small furry balls with two big eyes.
When I got home the Evening grosbeaks and grackle were still active and had been joined by a Western Kingbird and a Yellow-rumped warbler. What a great day.