Sunday, February 20, 2011

Common Snipe

 I'm sure with time that I am going to be able to better appreciate the magnitude of "raries" that show up in Newfoundland. I am quite astounded but I don't have the knowledge base to really dig into describing and explaining the visits of rare birds to this province. According to Dave Brown in his blog (that can be accessed from my page )the last documented visit from a Common Snipe was in 1927. That means that all of the birders here who have twenty to forty years of birding experience in this province have never seen one here. That is big!
 For me, it is a different experience. I am more of a sponge soaking up a ton of information about birds and taking small bits of knowledge to be my own on a daily basis. I am privileged to have seen this bird.
 I watched it as it actively fed all across the field. Its long bill was amazing. While balancing on the marshy mess, this Common Snipe continually dipped its bill deep into the marsh to find sustenance. It was healthy and busy feeding. I was really surprised that it was not greatly disturbed by the passing cars.
I stayed in my car with the window down the whole time. It was impossible to be totally quiet but neither snipe (the Wilson's nor the Common) were distracted by my movement.
 At times the snipe dipped its bill in so deep into the marsh that only its eyes were visible. A one point the Common Snipe did get a little uneasy and froze in place as the last picture shows. It stayed there for sometime until the distraction passed and then it got up and moved to a safer, more sheltered distance.
While watching these two birds, I couldn't help but remember a snippet from my youth. As young girls a group of us would often have bunking parties (sleep-overs as they are called here.) Each time we welcomed a new person into our bunking-party circuit, we would initiate them by taking them into the dark woods at night for a "snipe hunt." We all had flashlights, except for the newcomer, and we would venture a few hundred yards into the woods where we were supposed to scan and count snipe. One by one we would call out a number. At the pre-determined number we would all run out of the woods and leave the newcomer behind. Once she would find her way out of the woods, not having seen a single snipe, we would spend the night laughing and recounting the story. That was as close to having a successful snipe hunt in my experiences....until yesterday.

Please do check out Dave's blog for the real info on this bird.

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