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Rick Carlson, Canadian Lawyer WWW

Dowitcher | Short or Long Billed

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photographer Rick Carlson.

My son and I took a trip to a small lake in Saskatchewan where I heard some whooping cranes might be seen. We did see them, but only at a great distance so a photograph was not possible. However, these dowitchers didn't seem to mind me getting near.

I've looked in several field guides and it is almost impossible to tell if these are "Short Billed Dowitchers" or "Long Billed Dowitchers". The difference is extremely subtle and suprisingly has nothing to do with the length of their bill. I suspect they are short billed simply because there are more of them in northern Saskatchewan migrating down this way. Their breasts are darker coloured in the breeding season and turn lighter at the end. These appear to be midway through that process

It's too bad I only used f7.1 for an aperature setting as it resulted in too narrow a plane of focus. F16 would have allowed the rear birds to be in focus also. I'm sure I'll make this mistake many more times before it finally sinks in.

hide photo detail info location: Saskatoon, SK | shooting date: 2006-08-27 | camera: Nikon D200 | lens: Nikon 300 AF ED IF f4 @ 300mm (450mm in 35mm film SLR) | aperture: f/7.1 | support: Tripod

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