We have done some bush-walking this week around Broome as the weather permits, but still no luck with finding any Snipe species for the 2017 list! The land is saturated after several tropical storms and attempting to walk around a lagoon this past week became impossible and we just had to resort to wading! There are actually a lot less waterbirds than you might expect at some lagoons, but there is just so much water about the birds are spoiled for choice. In a few months’ time when there is a lot less water around it will make for some excellent birding as the birds concentrate around the remaining pools and we won’t have to walk as far to circumnavigate these areas.

Last week I introduced you to the Common Snipe in the UK and this week I will introduce you to the less common Jack Snipe. Our best observations of Jack Snipe were in dull weather at the Canal Scrape Hide at Spurn Bird Observatory on October 7th 2016. There were at least 19 Jack Snipe in the area that day and there were 7 at the hide, though not always easily observed unless they moved! The Jack Snipe are a smaller bird than the Common Snipe and the stand out feature is the shorter length of the bill. Of course this is not always easily seen when the Jack Snipe has its bill almost permanently in the mud feeding!

Jack Snipe feeding

We had been so busy observing the feeding Jack Snipe that we had almost overlooked the pair of Jack Snipe just in front of the hide at roost! Jack Snipe are incredibly well camouflaged and could easily be missed just like all of the snipe species! Dull days can be the best days for finding this species out in the open feeding, but of course not ideal for photography!

Two Jack Snipe at roost

Before we visited Spurn Bird Observatory we had looked at the sightings for October 2015 and had soon realised it is a very popular place for birds to drop in during October and therefore also birders, but it was not overly busy on Friday 7th October 2016. The weather may have had something to do with that! We were thrilled to find a lot of new species that day and there were a few people there actively looking for particular rare birds that had dropped in. You only have to look at the sightings for October 2016 to realise that any day you went there in October last year there was something special to see. We didn’t go chasing around Easington cemetery for the Red Flanked Bluetail that day, but we did see one of the thirteen Yellow-browed Warblers. Numerous birds were added to our 2016 year list that day and it was well worth getting rather damp and cold for! We returned on October 23rd 2016 for another excellent day of birding.

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!