A pair of Snipe at RSPB Fen Drayton

I haven’t yet been to see the Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) living on the edge of our village pond, but a visit to RSPB Fen Drayton today allowed us good views of a pair roosting and then feeding on the little islands right in front of the Coucher Hide there.

Snipe, Gallinago gallinago

This species is incredibly well camouflaged in its normal environment. I spotted the first of two, Mrs Sciencebase the second. A fellow birder couldn’t quite home in on the places we’d seen them until the birds began to move to feed with their classic sewing machine bill action. Not to be confused with the Jack Snipe, which has shorter legs, a shorter bill, is a little smaller, and has more detailed and stronger markings but lacks the central yellow stripe on the crown of its head.

Here’s a shot from the hide of the more distant of the two Snipe we saw. This image is as it came out of the camera, uncropped, with no sharpening or processing, other than to resize for the web to reduce file load. Spot the Snipe!

RSPB Fen Drayton Snipe uncropped

The bird gives its name to the term sniper in reference to how British soldiers in the 18th Century used to hunt the species in India.