Tag Archive | Wilson’s Snipe

Sniping a Snipe

The boy paused to make some adjustments to his gear before moving the long black object that was glinting in the sunlight up to his eye. He slowly, carefully took aim, lining up his target into the right position, not wanting to miss this golden opportunity. Not this time. He paused another moment before finally taking the shot. Snap! The boy looked down at his camera screen, pleased with the result. He rapidly took some more shots before quietly leaving the way he came.

Sunday afternoon, my dad and I headed out to Frank Lake, eager to see some young birds starting to emerge. As we were leaving this birding hotspot, we passed a small marsh beside the road; a fence running along the edge of the water. “Stop!” I suddenly exclaimed. We turned the car around when the traffic had died down and found a quiet place to park. On a fencepost, I had seen a Wilson’s Snipe,  a long-billed shorebird often seen in and around wetlands. We hopped out of the car, listening to the music of the wetland around us; boreal chorus frogs, yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds and coots, all adding to the cacophony of sounds around us.

We slowly and cautiously made our way closer and closer to the snipe, not wanting to scare it . We had never been quite so close to a snipe before and we approached to within a couple of meters of the bird before stopping. We admired and observed this well-marked little bird, delighted to have such a close encounter.

After doing some research on this  remarkable little bird, I found that its long bill is really quite amazing. The bill of the Wilson’s Snipe is flexible and the tips can be opened and closed with no movement at the base of the bill. Sensory pits at the tip of the bill act a little bit like sonar, allowing the snipe to feel its prey (small invertebrates) deep in the mud.

Posted by Matthew Sim

May Species Count – Longview Area

One of the areas that I surveyed for the May Species Count on Sunday May 29 was the Longview area, an hour SW of Calgary.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get to some of the best birding spots due to the wet weather, but the conditions were pretty good.  There was water flowing across some of the side roads but I did get through.

This creek was very high…

There was still quite a bit of snow at high elevations…

The Bar U Ranch road, looking west to the mountains…

I managed to find 75 species, which is a good total for that territory.  I was quite frustrated near the end of the day by my inability to find a House Sparrow anywhere in the town of Longview!  No House Finches there either.  I also saw about 35 Black Terns in a pond that was just out of my territory, and they refused to come over to a perfectly good pond on my side of the boundary.

But I did have some unexpected birds as well, including two Red-breasted Mergansers.  Here are some other highlights (as usual, you can click on the photos to enlarge them).

Mountain Bluebirds are commonly seen near the bluebird boxes…

Female Mountain Bluebird…

Tree Swallows are nesting in many of the Bluebird boxes…

I got a good look at this Red-eyed Vireo…

Male Red-naped Sapsucker…

Because of the high water, there were few shorebirds other than Spotted Sandpipers and a few of these Wilson’s Snipe…

I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Harlequin Ducks on the Highwood River at the Green View campground…

I only saw one pair of Green-winged Teal, but this male swam very close to me…

The final surprise of the day was this beautiful Red Fox, which seemed to be completely unconcerned with my presence, and walked right by me…

Posted by Bob Lefebvre