Wilson’s Snipe

February 22, 2017

A Wilson’s snipe forages along water’s edge at one of the wetlands at B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area (Lincoln County).

I went on a snipe hunt this morning. No, my friends didn’t pull a fast one on me and leave me out in the woods. This was a real snipe hunt, with a camera instead of a shotgun, of course. Over the last few days I’ve noticed an influx of snipe at the different waterfowl areas, so I decided that this morning would be as good as time as any to go on a dedicated snipe hunt.

You might be wondering why a snipe hunt has to be “dedicated.” Well, the problem with snipe is that you can’t just sit at the edge of a wetland photographing ducks, and expect to get very many grab shots of snipe. Snipe are shorebirds, referred to as “tight-sitting bog waders” in my favorite field guide. Because they wade and feed at water’s edge and even in the mud flats, you have to move your hide back away from the wetland, typically out of range of ducks and other waterfowl, and far enough to put a good swath of shoreline between you and the water.

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A typical look at a Wilson’s snipe feeding in shallow water habitat.

During the last few weeks I’ve been photographing almost every day, at least during the week, at the different waterfowl areas and public lakes within 100 miles of my house. I usually avoid weekends because I prefer not to run into other photographers and birders during my “spring waterfowl season.” To paraphrase an old blues song, “I duck hunt alone, yeah with nobody else, and when I duck hunt alone, I prefer to be by myself.”

This morning’s snipe hunt began with dense fog, the kind that makes you reconsider your entire plan. After putting those thoughts aside, I departed for B.K. Leach Conservation Area around 4:30 AM. As I pulled in to the parking lot an hour and a half later, I was yet again amazed at how efficiently you can cover 75 miles in a vehicle even though you could only see a few hundred feet in front of you the entire way.

It was already getting light as I gathered my equipment, most of which was covered with dried mud from previous hunts. During this time of year, all of my hunting clothes, camera gear, camo gear, and the inside of my car is covered with sulfurous mud! I have to admit the smell makes me happy. It means I’ve been photographing waterfowl!

After a slog through the fog and muck to one of my favorite wetlands, I settled into my turkey chair in a thick patch of corn cover, thanks to MDC, and began watching the flats. It wasn’t long before a single snipe landed nearby, then another and finally five or six more. Game on!

As the fog began lifting about an hour later, the images on my LCD started looking better and better. It wasn’t long before the snipe were all around me, too busy foraging with their long bills to become alarmed at my presence. My hide was less than ideal so believe me, if the snipe would have been mallards, they would have been long gone.

The featured image provides a nice look at a Wilson’s snipe, with its long bill, elegantly curved wingtips, camouflage-patterned coloration, and orange tail tip. The second image gives you a better look at the typical foraging habitat of snipe.

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Close-up detail of a snipe that approached so close, I couldn’t get its entire body in my frame.

The final image features a detailed look at one of these stocky shorebirds as it passed only a few feet in front of my hide. It was my favorite image of the morning.

I had a great day hunting snipe with my camera. I’m glad I didn’t slide back into my warm bed after seeing the thick fog out my bedroom window. I’m also happy that I made it to the site, safe and sound, and found a the perfect spot to get up close and personal with these secretive shorebirds.

Thanks for looking,

Danny Brown

Email me with questions or comments at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images/Print Information:  www.dannybrownphotography.com

 

10 comments on “Wilson’s Snipe”

  1. Great write up Danny and from your post sounds like hunting was amazing.

  2. Thank you for sharing. Great to have connections with a great teacher, learn something new every week.

  3. How close were you to that bird?

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®4

  4. Amazing, as usual, Danny!

  5. If these are “secretive”….thanks for sharing the secret with us!


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