Mainly Painted Snipe

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Mainly Painted Snipe
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 08:01:00 +1000
The party of Painted Snipe that have been on a local property for two months
now have been joined by another female, making a total of two females and
four males. 

For the first week or two there appeared to be just a female and three
males. Consistently, just three males. Daily visits, regular scanning,
definitely just three males. Then, when I counted four males one day I
thought that maybe I'd missed one all along. Surely they couldn't be
recruiting in this small indistinctive field, not part of any wetland system
- only wet at all just at one end by virtue of a leaking capped bore. 

Now, there are two females with the four males! Six birds. 

I wonder how this recruiting happens. Are individual Painted Snipe just
happening across this group, and joining it? Or has this been a regular
breeding location over years, to which they return? The latter seems less
likely given that this field doesn't have any long-standing wetland history.
It's often just as dry as everywhere else nearby.

Another possibility is that I've been miscounting all along, overlooking
some hidden birds. But, although I don't doubt that this probably does
happen more than I realise, I don't think it's the case here. The numbers
have been consistent for weeks at a time whether the birds were spread in
various parts of the paddock, or gathered together in a group. On the two
occasions when there has been a variation in the count, it has been upwards,
and once the new male appeared he remained regularly visible over subsequent

The new female is perhaps an immature bird, less well-marked than the first
female, but still showing the clean unspotted bronzeish back, and whiter,
but not yet clear white eye patch. The bills of both females are distinctly
bi-coloured, with pink lower halves, the males much less so, or not at all

I find it remarkable that this small party of birds in a mostly dry paddock
is somehow attracting new members. But there's such a lot going on out there
that is remarkable!

Good rain overnight. Oriental Cuckoo still here, but camera-shy,
Channel-billed Cuckoos raucous this-morning, two Koels calling from a tree
alongside the verandah, Nankeen Night-heron sitting on a mid-creek snag as I
write. Black-tailed Native-hen still on a farm dam just down the road. A
party of sixty or so Plumheaded Finches came through the garden on Sunday.  

Bill Jolly
Lockyer Valley, Queensland.
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Ph: (+61) 7 4697 6111  Fax: (+61) 7 4697 6056 

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