Common Snipe

Fall is a wonderful time of year in the Delta – a time that marks the end of our blistering, seemingly unending summer and welcomes the arrival of our winter season.  Each change of season brings a different group of critters to the wetlands.  Fall warblers, Harriers, various waterfoul, to name a few, only visit when the sun relents and allows the wind to bring cool air down from our friends in Canada.

One bird that visits us over the winter season is the Common Snipe.  They lie in the ditches along the plowed fields where chance leaves a bit of vegetation, overlooked by the industrial farmers eye.  They also seem to like the edge of the wetlands where they can find cover but have open fields to roam and hunt.  They are the most difficult bird to photograph I have encountered as they are impossible to see before they take flight and flight is a sudden, high velocity lift off akin to a bottle rocket.

Yesterday, while walking the dogs, a lone snipe offered me a rare pose.  When the dogs jumped him, he lifted off in normal rocket fashion but then decided to land again a short distance away.  This allowed me to tip back to his location and get this shot before he blasted off again in a blur of beak and feathers.

The blurry pic is what I usually get.    In the clear pic – if you look hard – you can see the 4″ beak of this secretive dove-sized shorebird.

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