Snipe - Hebridean Birds Sightings

Western Isles Birds - Snipe - The Common Snipes - are frequently seen in The Western Isles

These birds are medium sized, skulking wading birds with short legs and long straight bills.

Both the males and the females are mottled brown above with black markings and whitish stripes
Snipe -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Snipe
Family
Sandpiper & Allies
Latin name
Gallinago gallinago

 Population
Common


Similar Species
Jack Snipe
Woodcock
Description
The Snipes - which are frequently seen in The Western Isles are medium sized, skulking wading birds with short legs and long straight bills.

Both the males and the females are mottled brown above with black markings and whitish stripes.

The snipes have paler buff stripes on the back, dark streaks on the chest and pale under parts.

Size
19cm / 60g. Snipe is larger, and has longer bill than similarly plumaged Jack Snipe
Habitat
These birds in The Outer Hebrides - like marshes and silted up areas - flooded meadows, bogs and moors..
Food
Snipes eat small invertebrates, including worms and insect larvae. They sink their enormously long bill into the soft mud in order to feel for underground prey - worms etc - which the snipe finds by using the sensitive hairs at the end of its bill.

Voice
These birds are one of the few birds to use a non vocal sound during display. They use specially adapted feathers in their tails to produce a distinctive 'drumming' Drumming takes place throughout the breeding season

Breeding
During the breeding season common snipe seek out damp grassland, which is perhaps why these birds are to be seen on the moorlands on The Isle of Lewis and The Isle of Harris.



Once a female snipe is attracted the male pursues her and dives with wings held above the body in a V-shape. The snipe often roll and turn upside-down. The male takes no part in incubation at all.

The male snipe, continues his 'drumming' displays over the nesting territory. He feeds mostly at night, spending much of the day resting in cover.

Many breeding attempts fail. Crows or stoats may take the eggs. Fortunately snipe are persistent breeders and females made produce three or four clutches in the season before rearing young.



Breeding is between March and July - 4 eggs - Incubation 18 - 20 days and the young birds fly at 18 - 20 days. The common snipes nest on the ground.

Misc. Info
Common snipe have a fast - zig zag flight pattern which means that they can outmaneuver any predators such as Merlins. These birds were popular with the "shooting" fraternity - mainly because of their zig zag flight - they provided a challenge for the shooters..


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