Snipey Hat-Trick

Common Snipe
The recent deluges have turned parts of the patch into a mire of quag – in other places a marshy morass. On Monday morning I was picking my way through the puddlesome bog (enough synonyms already – ed), when a bird took off, almost from under my feet.

I immediately recognised it as a Jack Snipe, distinguishable from  its common cousin by the much shorter beak, size, markings and behaviour.  I was delighted to encounter this scarce and elusive bird – a patch first.

On Wednesday I had a similar encounter with a Common Snipe allowing me to compare the contrasting escape strategies of these two waders.

The Jack Snipe is much harder to flush, relying on its camouflage – they will occasionally even, allow themselves to be picked up rather than take off. They rise silently and half-heartedly then drop down again, fairly nearby.

The Common Snipe, on the other hand is “as flighty as a feather”, once flushed they shoot skywards, seemingly in panic, letting out  an expletive -   ‘crek’  - then zig-zagging high into the distance.

Wednesday’s Woodcock completed  the snipey hat-trick, elevating me to the pantheon of sporting greats, alongside Geoff Hurst, Stuart Broad and Geoffrey Archer.

The patch usually holds a good number of wintering Woodcock.  They flush with noisily whirring wings, level off and fly a short way before setting down.

For the past couple of months I have been delaying my patch perambulations -  waiting for good light - whilst getting to know, and photograph, the Fungi, Lichens and Bryophytes of the patch. Last week, however, I reverted to my normal routine of first-light-footslogs.

I’ve been rewarded with an excellent week of birding with a number of patch scarcities. In addition to the waders - Peregrine, Raven, Stonechat, Brambling, Willow tit and Barn Owl.

I also found a pair of Teal on the lake. Teal would barely register if seen at somewhere like Martin Mere or Marshside -  here, however it's something noteworthy...

...the joys of  patch watching in a nutshell.

Recent Patch Sightings
11/1 - Jack Snipe, Roe Deer (3)
13/1 - Common Snipe, Stonechat
14/1 - Woodcock, Brambling, Raven, Willow tit
15/1 - Peregrine, Raven (2)
Barn Owl - daily

Jack Snipe - the internet is full of photographs of birds before, they've flown off. Frankly it's getting boring now - the novelty has worn off.

So here's a picture of Jack Snipe after it has flown off. Note the diagnostic features:
1) lack of any bird in the frame
2) not that interesting really

Brambling -  a male visited the garden - always a treat to see

Great Tit - one of several species which have been in song recently - along with Coal Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper, Stock Dove

Signs of Woodcock. All manner of tracks were visible after Saturday's covering of snow including a surprising number  of places where a Woodcock had been probing for worms. I hadn't previously realised that this was such a good way of monitoring Woodcock. 
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  1. One of the great things about patch birding is seeing something common elsewhere that gets you excited :) I'd love a Jack Snipe or Woodcock on my patch would be mega! Teal I get hundreds.

    1. Exactly - that's what I trying to say I think you've expressed it better!

  2. A great hat-trick of birds to find on your local patch! Close to home I'm only aware of Snipe - how they sense you coming and flush from so very far away beats me! Wonderful to be starting to hear birdsong again, a sound that really lifts the spirits. :)

    1. Thanks Jan. I was delighted to find the Jack Snipe - I'm very fond of a Woodcock as well. After Saturday's snow I was really surprised to see how much evidence of woodcock there was (photo above). Yes lovely to hear bird song again, the first blackbird song I hear is always one of my bird highlights of the year.


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