My husband and I live in Katherine in the NT and recently came across some
snipe whilst birding along gorge road (a few kms north of Katherine). The
surrounding area is very flat and prone to localised flooding in the wet
season. It is currently filling up nicely and there are hundreds of the
usuals, such as whistling ducks, glossy and straw necked ibis, spoonbills,
grebes etc and the odd red kneed dotterel. But last week on an overcast
Sunday as we were pulling up to our usual road side viewing spot, we
disturbed some snipe which were just out of a grassy wetland patch.
Although we had nearly stopped, they naturally flew. We had a relatively
good look minus the binos, but of course there is a little difficulty with
identifying snipe. They flew in two directions and flew directly with no
zig zagging. There was no chance of getting another look other than
flushing them, and they had a wide expanse in which to disperse. We haven't
seen them since.
I understand the usual identification techniques (tail feathers etc), but it
doesn't look like there'd be any chance of that. My question I suppose is,
with what sort of conviction can we identify these snipe. I have read a few
books and papers etc and according to some, top end birds are usually
swinhoe's and eastern birds are usually latham's, but then of course there's
pintails to consider also.
It would be nice to add one to the list, but I'm happy to leave it at just
snipe if there's no certainty.
PS If anyone's going past Elliot (400kms south of Katherine) there are
hundreds of oriental pratincoles eating flying ants on the wing as they
emerge. Great to watch.
Strategic Planning and Development
Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 344, Katherine NT 0851
(Dept of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment)
phone: 08 89738818
fax: 08 89738899
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