Wed, 17 Mar 1999 08:28:46 +1000
Laurie (& Edwin)
You undoubtedly saw Latham's Snipe. I wouldn't be too concerned about size
comparisons, this is really meaningless in the circumstances where one
usually sees snipe. As far as descriptions of flight patterns - who is
going to believe the field guides when they describe only one type of
flight pattern. Yes, snipe often fly in a zig-zag manner, but they also
often fly directly for a relatively short distance before alighting.
If there are other species of snipe recorded in northern NSW/southern
Queensland these would be rare vagrants and really need not be considered.
The only possible alternative really is Painted Snipe but this would also
be rare. Did the birds call when flushed? If so they were Latham's, if
not then they could still have been Latham's. Did you notice white
markings around the eye/head? What about a flash of white under wing as
the birds flew? If not I suggest they were Latham's. All in all, I would
say there is a 99.99% chance they were Latham's Snipe.
I suppose I should justify this response by saying that I have a lot of
experience of snipe in northern NSW, having banded quite a few around
Grafton, and more recently been involved in studies of snipe ecology in the
Hunter where we were looking at wetlands containing over 500 Latham's Snipe
(seriously) as well as Painted Snipe.
I hope this helps
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