Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Snipe, Musselburgh, Scotland, October 2001 - click for larger image Scotland

Common Snipe are fairly cosmopolitan birds being found in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. They are essentially migratory, breeding in northern latitudes and wintering closer to the Equator. The British population and that of West and Central USA are largely sedentary and so can be found all year round.

Snipe, Musselburgh, Scotland, October 2001 - click for larger image Its most important features are its very long, straight bill, dumpy shape, striped head and body and white belly. By contrast, Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus) is smaller, with a shorter bill, no pale crown stripe and a unique bouncing action when feeding.

When flushed, the Common Snipe flies in a zigzag.

Snipe, Yell, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image Its main display has a distinctive drumming (sounding a bit like a lamb bleating) which is produced by air vibrating through its spread tail feathers while in steep dives as can be seen in the 6th photo.

There are illustrations in HBW, Volume 3, Pages 458 and 494.

Snipe, Yell, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image
Snipe, Yell, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image
Snipe, Yell, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image
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