Test Yourself!

Whether it be for school, employment, or medical treatment, testing is a fact of life. But the Bible tells us of a more important test…

Psalm 26:2 “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”

With such a wide variety of “flavors”, shorebirds like peeps and gulls can be a test of a birder’s identification skills. Sanderling and Ring-billed Gull; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. December, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

For months now we’ve heard about coronavirus testing, testing, testing. So when I came home from work last month and saw my 15-year-old daughter laid out on the couch with a runny nose, headache and sore throat, I knew what had to be done. And when her COVID-19 test came back positive, we knew what we had to do: re-enter that dismal bunker of self-isolation. (Thankfully all her symptoms were fairly minor and she had a quick recovery, other than loss of taste and smell.)

Two weeks of Quarantine. What now? While my older daughter lamented about the devastating impact upon her social life, I decided to test myself! No, I’m not speaking of a homemade COVID-19 test, but brushing up my skills on some of those hard to identify shorebirds. I found my old stack of 3 x 5 index cards that I made long before I had a smartphone, each with a bird photo taped to front, and began to test myself.

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings on Port Royal Sound, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. May, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

But I wasn’t halfway through the first day of isolation when God began to challenge me. What about your prayer life? How is your Bible reading lately? Like Job’s inquisition from the Almighty, my only answer could be, “Touché, God!”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

Following God‘s cue, I continued to test myself. Where did I put that prayer list of friends, family, and coworkers? How long has it been since I’ve written a full-length sermon? How about getting the Greek New Testament off the shelf to read a chapter a day? Instead of binge-watching internet videos, I challenged myself to pray morning, noon, night (which proved harder than I thought!).

God tests us to prove us and bring us closer to Him; not to frustrate us, see us fail, or wallow in a puddle of self-condemnation. We may not always enjoy testing, but if we will self-test ourselves now, we will be spared that “Final Examination” coming to those that miss the Rapture!

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 3:10

Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Willets At Ding Darling NWR

Willet at Ding Darling NWR by Lee 01-26-2019

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” (Job 12:7 NKJV)

Previously, we were at Merritt Island NWR and had seen some Willets and I needed help identifying some birds. One of them turned out to be a Willet. I have seen them before, but not very often. Today, we went to Ding Darling NWR over on Sanibel Island, right nearby Fort Myers, Florida.

Today was very cool, around 48-50 degrees, overcast, and very windy. Not a great day for birdwatching, if you have a small temperature range like I do. :) My range is between 65 and 80 degrees. Anyway, back to the adventure.

The birds were few and not really close in. Most of my photos were taken using my zoom. The Willets were feeding and I happened to be standing by a lady with a nice camera that had a long lens on it. Wanting to show of my new Willet identity skills, I said, “those are Willets, right.?” [That is how you ask when you really aren’t 100% sure.]

“Yes, they are.” Then she said, “I am a biologist and a Shorebird specialists.” About that time, one of the Willets from another group flew by us and she told me that the black and white wing bars are a great clue. Also, they are one of the largest shorebirds in this area.

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR by Lee 01-26-2019

One of the great things about birdwatching is the helpfulness of other birders. Most are willing to share their experience and knowledge about these Avian Wonders from our Creator. Now I have another way to help figure out that I am looking at a Willet.

Here are a few more photos as he flew by:

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR by Lee

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR by Lee

When the bird landed, you could still see the black at the back of its wings. [far left bird]

As we continued to watch and talk, a group of the Willets flew over and landed. It was nice to see all those black and white markings. Once they settled down, close their wings, all that “clue” is again hid. Oh, the joys and challenges of birdwatching.

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR by Lee 01-26-2019

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) at Ding Darling NWR by Lee 01-26-2019

By the way, looking back over previous photos, we were last at Ding Darling in July of 2008. It has been some time since we were there and there were many more birds. Could it be because it was in July and WARMER???

The verse quoted above, “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” (Job 12:7 NKJV), reminds us that the Lord has made each species just a bit different. If we study them, “they will tell us.”

Ding Darling NWR – FWS

Ding Darling NWR – Wikipedia

Willet – All About Birds

  • Because they find prey using the sensitive tips of their bills, and not just eyesight, Willets can feed both during the day and at night.

Willet – Wikipedia

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) ©WikiC

Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 6/21/16


Skimmers - Gulls - Terns resting at the shore MacDill by Lee



“I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:” (Daniel 4:4 KJV)

Skimmers – Gulls – Terns resting at the shore MacDill by Lee


More Daily Devotionals


Photos from Circle B and MacDill Shore

Tricolored Heron Juvenile by Dan at Circle B

The last post had my photos and videos from our trip to Circle B Bar Reserve (Circle B After Recent Rains) . Today, I am showing you the GOOD ONES! These were taken by Dan.

Also, I am adding his photos from the shore at MacDill AFB on Tampa Bay. The names were added by me and some are uncertain. I know many of you who visit this blog are better at naming birds than we are. Identifying shorebirds is still in the beginning stages for us, though I “think” I know what these are. So, If you can help, please leave a comment.

I have searched my books for Dan’s #19, and can’t find it. It must be an immature.

Unknown by Dan MacDill Shore 2014 (19)

Unknown by Dan MacDill Shore 2014 (19)

When the photos I took on this recent trip are blogged about, it would be nice to have proper names on the birds. (At least most of them.)

Enjoy Dan’s photos. He is the one that takes the great ones. You can also visit his website at Dan’s Pix.


But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, (Deuteronomy 14:12 KJV)

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19)

I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. (Psalms 102:6 NKJV)


Circle B After Recent Rains

Dan’s Pix

Birdwatching Trips

Birdwatching Trips – Circle B Bar Reserve, FL

Birds of the Bible – Herons – PelicansOsprey Sea Gulls

Good News Tracts


Birdwatching at MacDill AFB, May 2012

Dan and Black Skimmers

Dan and Black Skimmers

Today, Dan and I had to run over to Tampa for a couple of errands. We stopped by the MacDill AF Base to see how the birds were faring out on their beach on Tampa Bay. When we were there a month or so ago, there were lots of shorebirds. Since there have been many of reports lately from the Listing Service of migrants passing through the state, we thought we would take a look. Tampa is about 45 miles to the west of us and closer to the Gulf of Mexico. We didn’t have the time to go on over to the gulf.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Our biggest surprise, and the only one, was a pair of Yellow-crowned Night Herons along one of the canals. Down at the beach, we only found the usual Skimmers, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, two kinds of Terns; Royal and Sandwich, Turnstones, Willet, White Ibises, and the proverbial Brown Pelicans flying by in formation. A little disappointing, but enjoyable none the less. Even when I only see one bird, I enjoy my birdwatching adventures. I assume most of the birds have already passed by or they were not in much of a beach mood today.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Even though few species seen today, aren’t they all amazing to watch? I am always amazed at the variety of birds that we get the pleasures of watching.

Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (Job 9:10 KJV)

White Ibis

White Ibis


Some of the birds at the beach

Some of the birds at the beach Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns and Black Skimmers

I also shot a video of some of the birds at the shore. There are Black Skimmers, which I think are cute walking around, Royal Terns, Sandwich Tern and Laughing Gulls relaxing together.



One other bird spotted out my back window a few days ago was this House Finch. All winter the normal House Finches and some orange variant ones visited the feeders. This one seems to have combined the two together. Thought it was rather different and wanted to share it. It was shot through the window and screen, so not the best shot.

Interesting House Finch at feeder

Interesting House Finch at feeder


Shorebirds Overview

Shorebirds have a reputation for being difficult to identify, but in reality, the family has a number of distinctive members. This video looks at some of the standouts in the shorebird clan.


Back to the Peterson Field Guide Video Series
“Shorebirds Overview” Video is from petersonfieldguides at YouTube