Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nesting willets make sure they're noticed

Story by Genie Gregor

I went to the Marsh today, having in mind to do some phragmites cutting and collecting specimens of the plants that might be in bloom now. As I was approaching the site from the bay, I noticed a willet - he made sure he does not go unnoticed - making circles above my head and giving out piercing calls.

Although I knew it was the nesting season for Tringa semipalmata, or the eastern Willet, and they are known to be very defensive parents, I was hoping that their nest was away from my path and, if I have a friendly face and move forward at a leisurely pace, they would let me do my stuff... Not even close! With every new step I took, the willet - it was, probably, the male - grew angrier and more feisty, flying closer to me, his screams more and more offensive.

Then his spouse joined in... 

I retreated. The willets stayed. When I looked back, they were sitting on the osprey platform, shouting unpleasant remarks to me.

Once out of their sight, I was able to pick flowers, i.e. collect plant specimens for our herbarium, peacefully.