Re: birding-aus Snipe

Subject: Re: birding-aus Snipe
From: francis crome <>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 10:03:44 +1000

Chris Corbens response to Danny re snipe legs further clarifis this snipe
id businss.  I have handled upwards of 600 (mostly dead) jap snipe and they
vary tremendously in plumage wear, moult condition and tail length.  If I
remember correctly the tails moult noramally - not in a bunch - but when
the inner tail feathers moult you can get four feathers growing at once in
many cases.  There are always a few birds with even more growing at a time.

I note that the discussions re sipe have been restricted to Swinhoe's and
Japanese. Why? There are also G. stenura to consider and the remote
posibility of errant G. gallinago.  Is this another example of birds
present being determined by what's in a field guide?  To be sure of a
Swinhoe's one has to eliminate all other Galinago species. Sure those
others are going to be very unlikely (maybe???) but one cannot assume a
dodgy Japanese is going to be a Swinhoe's.  To do so you have to resort to
probabilty.  Snipe are just bloody hard.  You really need them in the hand.  .

I note in the latest newsletter of the north qld branch of the RAOU that
Swinhoe's are now considered to be " a widespread but overlooked visitor to
NQ about November to March each year and is seen frequently on the Atherton
tableland, adjacent coast and many other areas". I don't know about you
Danny or Chris but I do not believe snpe can be so consistently identified
in the field as to be able to make such statements.  Anway I think snipe on
the tableland mostly or only occur on passage.  

It is surprising how many people are now making positive ids of Swinhoe's.
They are not all going to be right. Maybe every snipe sighting on the east
coast and ranges should be considered a Jap until the rarities commitee has
examined each case.  I have been watching snipe for a long time and I am
not confident of identifying them even now.  I've seen too many.

A fascinatng set of birds


Francis Crome
Francis Crome Pty Ltd
PO Box 1562
Qld 4064 Australia

phone: +61 7 3876 3210
fax    +61 7 3876 3281
mobile +61 41 773 0291
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