Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A willet won’t will its way into your will, will it?

with 17 comments


On September 19th we spent time at Galveston Island State Park, where we saw—how could we not?—several kinds of shore birds. I figured the one above in the surf on the gulf side of the park is a kind of sandpiper, and Shannon Westveer confirmed that it’s a willet, Catoptrophorus semipalmatus. The dictionary says the common name mimics the willet’s cry. An hour later—to within 15 seconds—on the bay side of the state park I photographed three roseate spoonbills, Platalea ajaja, doing their bill-in-the-water thing sifting for food: 






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I’ve long known that calumny and lies in politics go back centuries, in fact probably as long as politics has existed. The introduction to Alan Dershowitz’s new book, The Price of Principle: Why Integrity Is Worth the Consequences, provides a quotation in which Alexander Hamilton called out the practice in 1797:

A principal engine, by which this spirit endeavours to accomplish its purposes is that of calumny. It is essential to its success that the influence of men of upright principles, disposed and able to resist its enterprises, shall be at all events destroyed. Not content with traducing their best efforts for the public good, with misrepresenting their purest motives, with inferring criminality from actions innocent or laudable, the most direct fals[e]hoods are invented and propagated, with undaunted effrontery and unrelenting perseverance. Lies often detected and refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refutation may have been forgotten or that the frequency and boldness of accusation may supply the place of truth and proof. The most profligate men are encouraged, probably bribed, certainly with patronage if not with money, to become informers and accusers. And when tales, which their characters alone ought to discredit, are refuted by evidence and facts which oblige the patrons of them to abandon their support, they still continue in corroding whispers to wear away the reputations which they could not directly subvert….


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2022 at 4:36 AM

17 Responses

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  1. I love the watery background in the top photograph. It looks as if it’s a painting – beautiful!

    Ann Mackay

    October 2, 2022 at 6:11 AM

    • Many are the uses of water in photography—and painting. I imagine artists of many kinds love being at places where the land meets the sea.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2022 at 6:18 AM

  2. How cool! I’ve seen the Willet several times, but never in the wild the Spoonbills! They’re high on my list to want to see. How exciting for you to see them!! I’ve only seen them in captivity at a Safari Zoo.


    October 2, 2022 at 6:40 AM

    • Someone as fond of birds as you should come on down to Texas. Roseate spoonbills are common on Galveston Island, and you’d probably have no trouble finding some. You could cross off one item high on your list and probably others as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2022 at 6:47 AM

      • I was in Galveston for a couple days years ago and never saw one! I’m hoping to get back to FL or that part of TX where I might see one someday.


        October 2, 2022 at 8:38 AM

        • I don’t know if you traveled from the city proper further down Galveston Island. That’s where I saw the spoonbills this time and on a previous visit. Perhaps they’re more common in the souther tip of the state, where many birders go.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 2, 2022 at 7:03 PM

  3. A willet with plentiful will
    went probing the sands with its bill.
    When it hit a crab shell
    it went running pell-mell
    crying, “That was a bit of a thrill.”


    October 2, 2022 at 7:11 AM

    • A writer of whimsical verse
      Wrote lines not exceedingly terse.
      “Let me see,”
      So said she,
      If I can write a last line longer than that of any limerick that’s ever been put forth in the whole wide universe.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2022 at 7:29 AM

  4. Clever.

    Steve Gingold

    October 2, 2022 at 9:13 AM

  5. The spoonbills image is very painterly, I can see it as a mural.
    I wonder when or if people will see the danger of the political system and care enough to take on their own responsibilities…


    October 2, 2022 at 4:23 PM

    • I do see Impressionism in the spoonbills image. I only wish the bird at the right had been turned a little more toward the camera, but we take what we can get.

      I’m cynical enough to think many people are happy to lie and slander to achieve a politcal end.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2022 at 7:06 PM

  6. Beautiful photos Steve, especially the spoonbills. I nave never heard of a Willet. Its pose reminds me of an ostrich.


    October 2, 2022 at 5:00 PM

    • Thanks. The pastel colors in the picture of the spoonbills particularly pleased me, too.

      I don’t remember previously hearing of a willet, either, although it’s in a book of Texas birds that I’ve had for years. The willet shown in the book looked similar to the one I photographed but I still needed an expert’s confirmation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2022 at 7:33 PM

  7. […] at Galveston Island State Park, where we glimpsed various shore birds. You’ve already seen a willet and three roseate spoonbills. Today’s top picture offers up twice as many spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) but they play second […]

  8. The spoonbills’ colours are wonderful .. great shots Steve


    October 8, 2022 at 4:25 PM

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