Friday, 9 December 2011

Wilson's Snipe

Now split from Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, Wilson's Snipe G delicata is the lookalike Nearctic counterpart. For decades distinctions between the two have been murky, with much variation and similarity clouding the picture, but in recent years the ID criteria have become clearer and Wilson's - although still bestowed with mega rarity status - is being identified with increasing confidence and regularity in Britain. It surely remains under-recorded here, however, given that 115 have now been recorded in the Azores (for full details see the Birding Azores website).

A major photo ID guide in the January 2012 issue of Birdwatch looks at this problem, with extensive photos of both Common and Wilson's Snipe and discussion of the ID criteria for the rarer species. These videos, shared from YouTube with due credit to those who shot the footage, supplement the still images in the magazine.

 The above clip has interesting 'song' on the soundtrack.

Wilson's Snipe: accepted British records

  • 1998: Lower Moors, St Mary’s, 9 October 1998-7 April 1999 (British Birds 101: 539-540).
  • 2007: Lower Moors, St Mary’s, a first-winter on 3 October, with the presumed same bird from 1 October to 22 April (British Birds 103: 587); also three juveniles moulting to first-winter plumage at the same site, 21 October-26 December (British Birds 104: 582).
  • 2008: Wingletang, St Agnes, 11 October (British Birds 104: 582).

In addition, it seems highly likely that the autumn 2011 bird, present at Lower Moors from September into November and documented so thoroughly with photographs, will become the seventh accepted record in due course.

References and further reading 

Bland, B. 1998. The Wilson’s Snipe on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 11: 382-385.
Bland, B. 1999. The Wilson’s Snipe on Scilly revisited. Birding World 12: 56-61.
Reid, M. 2008. Identification of Wilson’s and Common Snipe. British Birds 101: 189-200.
Rowlands, A, Small, B J, and Bradshaw, C. 2009. From the Rarities Committee’s files: Identification of Wilson’s Snipe and assessment of the first British record. British Birds 102: 425-434.

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