Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Cryptic Plumage.

Most commonly it is the female gender of most species that sports a plumage enabling them to be less noticeable as they are the ones that brood their youngsters. However there are some particular species where both partners, unless spotted out in the open,  are easily able to blend into their natural habitats and can be extremely difficult to locate unless you know exactly where or what to look for.

In my somewhat limited experience the ultimate camouflage expert is the Bittern but as I don't have any decent photos I thought I would share some of the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) whose cryptic plumage, especially when it is sitting still with its long bill resting along its back, easily enables it to become part its surroundings.

As you can see from the first two images the upperparts are mottled brown with distinctive straw yellow stripes that match the colour surroundings in its usual breeding habitats of marshes, bogs, wet meadows, tundra and moorland. (I watched this individual from a hide at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Reserve at Barnes in early January. It was feeding below a grassy bank along the muddy water margin far to my right where there were no windows that opened and a fence obstructing my views so all the images are cropped.)
When it sat at the waters edge the ID was simple ... a disproportionately long straight bill with the distinctive central light coloured head stripe ( Jack Snipe has a much shorter bill,  an obvious dark central head stripe and a split supercilium) and the rather dumpy body shape clearly says this is a Common Snipe.
A small stocky wader native to northern Europe and Asia which most closely resembles the Wilson's Snipe (G. delicata) found in North America.

They forage for invertebrates by probing the soft mud or ground in a sewing machine motion.
The sensitiveness of the extreme tip of it bill means that it can distinguish whatever it encounters even though it cannot see its prey. This species faces severe problems when their habitat deteriorates or is not waterlogged at the end of the winter. If the ground becomes dry and hard then breeding will cease.

The underparts are pale with grey-brown spotting and stretching down its flanks. Old folk names include 'mire snipe', 'horse gawk' and 'heather bleater'. The Common Snipe is very shy and easily able to conceal itself but if flushed from cover it flies away in a series of erratic zigzags to confuse its predators. The obvious difficulties in hunting this species gave rise to the term 'sniper' which generally refers to a skilled military sharpshooter.    FAB.

Click here for more WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY images hosted by Springman.

38 comments:

  1. Interesting post Frank. Great photo's too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Outstanding Snipe shots Frank, really displays the species at its best.
    Nice One

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW - it does have great CAMO!
    Super shots of a LOVELY bird!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post. The camo of the female birds are astounding. love it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree - Snipes are not easy to see or photograph! You have great photos there - especially where the bird is out in the open.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Frank,
    Some great shots there of a brilliant bird! The Common Snipe is a bird that is close to my heart. My first early morning birding session with my Dad was to see this amazing bird `drumming` in a field close to where we lived when I was about 7 or 8, a great sight! The field in question is now drained, so the Snipe are no more, a too common story!
    J
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

    ReplyDelete
  7. I see Snipes all the time on my patch Frank. Lovely birds to watch from a distance through my scope. Photos of them no chance. What a great series you have delivered.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great photos and information Frank. Snipe really are masters of camouflage. I lost count of the number of times they surprised me this winter as I was out walking and they erupted from the ground nearby.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great shots. We have Common Snipes here as well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You can def miss these guys in the brown reeds--
    Great Photos!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great photos and you're right on the camo. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Frank... There is something about these guys that I just love!!
    I even have some wood carved ones : }
    Great post and photos full of info.!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fascinating. I never realized where the term sniper originated. I love learning new things every day out here in blog land.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Fantastic images. Just gorgeous Frank. Kudos to you! Carol

    ReplyDelete
  15. I liked this post Frank. They sure do have long beaks. Very interesting. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't know what I like better, your surperlative text or your brilliant pictures! You have on heck of an eye Frank. And to get that close? Unbelievable!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Snipes are such cool shorebirds, and a species that I have yet to get in front of my lens! Terrific captures in this post!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Warren.

    Cheers Monty. I doubt the opportunity will crop up that easily again.

    Thanks very much Kerri.

    Hi Bill S. With this species both male and female are very similar.

    Thanks Mick. Just try to grab the moment when possible .. this time luck was on my side!

    Hi John. Lovely memories to be cherished. Strangely my father is just beginning to understand my love for the avian species.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Andrew. I'm still waiting to catch any glimpse of a Snipe on my local patch but there are several other locations close by where they can be uncovered.

    Thanks joo.

    Hi Adam. Thanks. Hopefully you're keeping an eye open for the elusive 'Jacks'.

    Hi Mona. I thought your version was called Wilson's.

    Hi Sondra. Cheers. Yeah, they do take a little time to uncover.

    Thanks Gary.

    Hi Grammie. Carvings of Snipe, now that is cool.

    Hi Lois. Never too old to learn something new.

    Hi Carol. Thanks very much.

    Hi Ginny. Yes they do and just foe feeding!

    Hi Springman. I enjoy your turn of phrase as well my friend. Only as close as a 70-300 lens will allow ... hence all the shots were cropped.

    Thanks Pat. I'm sure you'll produce a much better image when you get the opportunity.

    Thanks dreamfalcon.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If it's water-logged habitat they need, they should be flocking to the Pacific Northwest. It just won't stop raining! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a camo. A great post with beautiful images. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  22. a very informative post. Thank you! And the shots are so great. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. ...very interesting post, Frank. I've never been able to photograph our similar bird, the Wilson's Snipe. They fly away every time I get close (I usually only see them when they flush). Your photos are fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Mike B. Sorry about all your rain, we have just had the driest March for years!

    Fotokarusallen. Appreciate your compliments.

    NatureFootstep. Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Kelly. Ditto .. I've never got close to our Jack Snipe apart from nearly stepping on one and they are far too quick for my reflexes! More usually the Common is only viewable through the scope but this one made my day with a much closer encounter.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Interesting, informative post, illustrated with great photos! Can't be better!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Awesome shots of the Snipe. I do not know why but I just love this bird. So far I have only seen it thru my binocs someday I hope to see it up close.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Pat. Delighted you enjoyed this post.

    Hi Eileen. Waders are one of my favourites but I rarely get a chance to get close with the camera so this event was worth documenting. Persistence with any species eventually pays off ... good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, this must have been a fun photo shoot!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Steve B. Yes, it was. The unexpected often produces the goods.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Frank, your photos of the snipe are truly stunning! Wonderful detail! My attempts were much less successful - it's hard because they are so well camouflaged and it's difficult to make them stand out from the background of weeds and water.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Hilke. Thanks. I now appreciate just how clever this wader is at concealing itself with a limited surrounding of vegetation.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The PORTRAIT in every detail....amazing and so fascinating; how difficult it must have been to shoot these pics.....they are fabulous!!!!!

    Have a sunny weekend, Frank!!!

    ciao ciao elvira

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you Elvira. Twisting out through a hide window was worth the effort. I hope you have a fun weekend also. ciao ciao FAB.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Great shots, esp. the last one! And, i love that name "Horse Gawker!" Nice series, Frank

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks Robin. Many of those old common names would be totally politically incorrect these days!!

    ReplyDelete

I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.

If 'Word Verification' shows up then it's a Google glitch. Just ignore it and click 'publish' as usual.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails