*No* Dowie Dilemma!

This gallery contains 5 photos. Long-Billed and Short-Billed Dowitchers can be the novice birder’s bane–particularly when they are so far away that proper identification–via field marks that may change–is difficult. In my case, I call it “The Dowie Dilemma.” But, in the case of these Dowies, with their straight bills and straight v-shaped superciliums, there was little doubt that these were of the Long-Billed persuasion. Photographed on September 23.

Long-Billed Dowitcherswhy the long faces? the fishing is great here — just ask the Blue Herons.
f/6.3, 1/640, 150-500mm telephoto lens, 289mm, ISO 1000

Although shorebird numbers in the Pacific Northwest typically swell in late summer through fall, shorebirds tend to congregate in large flocks (100 or more) well away from cameras and spotting scopes. So I was surprised to almost walk into a nonchalant trio who was perched on top of the rocks in the marsh at the base of the observation tower at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Although my sudden appearance could have sent them flying for the outer ponds, none felt compelled to do so. It was like they were expecting me.

Long-Billed Dowitchers2 of the original 3. subjects’ comfort levels must be high if they face away from the camera.
f/6.3, 1/640, 150-500mm telephoto lens, 403mm, ISO 800

This one flew in specifically for a few cameos from me. This enabled me to photograph my subject from various angles. To give you an idea of their size, Long-Billed (and Short-Billed) Dowitchers are much smaller than your average duck and seagull.

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28 thoughts on “*No* Dowie Dilemma!

    • thank you, Deb! rather interestingly, the other two photographers who were there to photograph the reclusive Sora (which I also saw and photographed, shortly afterwards) did not see these three perched on the marsh rocks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • unfortunately, I only have one photo of the Sora and it’s partially obscured by one of the marsh reeds. 🙂

        you really, REALLY have to be lucky to get it (there were about 5 photographers trying to get a shot of the same bird on that same day).

        another group of 10 photographers (which I joined while walking Reifel on that same day) managed to locate (by sound only, alas), a Virginia Rail. two of these were calling to each other from the rushes just below our viewing platform, but never appeared. so unfortunately, I can’t really add it to my life list. 😦

        the original purpose of my visit was to photograph the Great Egret who had been visiting for the past couple of weeks, but I missed that rare bird by a day!! 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • Still you have that image, and it’s a bird you’ve seen! My image is noisy as it was getting late, and the bird came of the rushes for only a couple of minutes. I was on the last go-round on the auto-route at a favorite Wildlife Reserve about 2 hours from my home when I and a friend spotted the Sora.

        I’ve never seen or photographed the Virginia Rail though I’ve been looking for years. I’m that photographer that never manages to see it when it’s been spotted. 🙂 So it remains on my Life List.
        I hope you get to see and photograph that Great Egret!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will publish the Sora in a future post. that bird came out for about five seconds before ducking back into the reeds. 🙂

        I hope I get to photograph the Great Egret, too! rare birds are always a pleasure to shoot, and ebird.org comes in handy for tracking them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dowies are particularly fond of aquatic grubs and insects. if you ever see one, it uses a “sewing machine method” of poking into mudflats and shores for these delicacies.

      thank you, Noelle — you are the second person to tell me that! 🙂


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