Monday, 16 September 2013

Double Snipe

So I tried to do the right thing. Big westerlies and rain and the thought that surely yesterday's Great Snipe wouldn't still be at Spurn made my decision to go looking for wind blown skuas at Hes East the birding destination of choice. Not much doing, though 12 Snipe were seemingly taunting me, reminding me of their large Polish cousin out east. Plenty of ducks, with one Wigeon, 3 Pochard and c25 Tufted Ducks on the lake, though numbers of Teal were down on the west lagoons. Plenty of Linnets around and the semi-resident Greenshank. Then the news started to arrive of the Great Snipe giving crippling views...

An hour and a quarter of frenetic driving later, I pulled up at Kilnsea and jogged round on to Beacon Lane. Steve Exley immediately got me into the viewing position by a wall looking behind a gate on to a bit of rough land by a building. At first I couldn't see anything as I peered into the gloom under some scrub. But then I realised the green stripes I was looking at were the legs of the snipe, literally ten feet away, sitting on the grass right out in the open. Unbelievable!

For the next hour or so, those present had incredible views of this stunningly beautiful wader as it performed superbly, feeding actively on the grass and under the bushes, interspersed with a few naps. At times, it went for a wander, sometimes coming rediculously close. What a bird! I never thought I would see this species this well ever, with plenty of time to scrutinize every feather. The bird was in immaculate plumage and presumably a first calendar year, but I am not sure about the ageing of Snipes.

Great Snipes used to be known as Double Snipes, presumably because they were twice the bulk of a Common Snipe and therefore had more meat on them! Records are much scarcer these days than they used to be, so this bird was a welcome addition to many Yorkshire lists, including mine!

Birders staring under the gate to see the bird

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