Eldorado Water Treatment Ponds – Willet

Willet. (Tringa semipalmata).  There are two species of this shorebird.  The Eastern Willet and the Western Willet.  These photos of course, are of the Western species. They are larger and more stockier than the greater Yellowlegs.  And of course, they have gray legs.  They prefer to stay around wet prairies and fields.

I am into birding as much as I am into photography.  These photos may not be as esthetic as I may like them to be, but they do represent what a Willet is supposed to look like.  They were both taken when we made our trip to the water treatment ponds at Eldorado on Wednesday.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get as close to him as I did.

As I am want to do, when photographing birds, I make sure that I can stop the action if necessary.  Shorebirds, sandpipers, and others are always on the move, feeding and bobbing around.  So I opted to shoot in shutter priority, which doesn’t always provide the depth of field, or the larger apertures that I sometimes like.  You know, the larger openings that would provide me a more blurred background.  But having said that, the rocky background probably was to close to the bird to make much difference anyway.  I was shooting at f6.3 and I could only go to f5.6 with my set-up.  But, nevertheless, I think you will enjoy these images.

The photo EXIF data is the same for each one.  You may click on either image to see an enlargement.



  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon 500mm IS lens with 1.4 tele-converter
  • 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3
  • ISO 500
  • Lens focal distance  700mm
  • Metering – partial
  • Shutter priority

Eldorado Water Treatment Ponds – Snowy Egret

Ann and I went down to Eldorado to bird and photograph at their water treatment ponds.  It is one of our favorite places to go, even though it is about a 40 mile drive.  The place consists of four large ponds, each approximately 100 yards wide and about 200 yards long.  These are just guesses on the dimensions but I opine they are pretty close.  There is a little driving lane around each pond, so you can use your car as a bird blind.

The one thing I like about going there, is that you never know what you might see.  Yesterday we saw three Snowy Egrets, one Great Egret, one Great Blue Heron, one Willet, three Killdeer, several Black Terns, several Spotted Sandpipers, plus various swallows, sparrows and vultures.  Today, I will feature a couple of images that I obtained of a Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).  Quite a bit smaller than the Great Egret, it has black legs, yellow feet, and a black beak with yellow lores.  Exception is the juvenile has yellow legs with a black edge.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

American White Pelicans Returning

I went out to O. C. Fisher Dam and lake to check on the water fowl that have been returning.  The first thing that caught my eye was several American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) nearly out in the middle of the lake.  We spotted them from the top of the boat ramp, (that is 50 yards from the water).  I got my 500mm out of the van, Ann carried my tripod, and we hiked down the shoreline so I could get a little closer shot.  What was funny, but really not that unusual, was a Great Blue Heron standing amongst them. 

American White Pelicans plus a friend

Yes, I said standing out there in the middle of O. C. Fisher, in about eight inches of water.  That gives you an indication what the drought is doing to this area.  It is a shame how such a little amount of water remains.  There is not a single boat ramp available anymore.  Some ramps are nearly a quarter-mile from the water.  But I was still a good five hundred yards from the birds, so I attached my 1.4 tele-converter to make the shot.


But it does make a good area for the wading birds.  We also saw many Americn Avocets, various sandpipers, egrets, herons.  I did photograph  another lifer, number 213, but who’s counting.  🙂  It was a Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), a bird thats a little rare around here.

Well, ’till the next time,  Happy Birding!!