Painted Snipe at Banyule - 2 birds?

Subject: Painted Snipe at Banyule - 2 birds?
From: (Danny Rogers)
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 14:27:37 +1100 (EST)
>From: <>
>> Are there two birds  - a male and a female ? 

Hi Michael,

I saw the Painted Snipe at Banyule on 28 Oct. and would vote for it being an
immature female, hatched last year. I'm reasonably familiar with their
plumages as I wrote the plumage and moult bits for this species in HANZAB,
an excercise that gave me the chance to spend a week studying  all the
Painted Snipe skins from Australian museums. 

The Banyule bird I saw was definitely a female as its wing-coverts were
finely barred black and olive - the wing-coverts of malesare boldly spotted
buff in all plumages. However it had a dull head pattern for a female
Painted Snipe - the ground colour of the neck and face is a sort of medium
brown, not the dark rich brown of a fully adult female, and is further
subdued by duller feather tips. The dull feather tips are best seen on the
nape - it looks dull brown in most postures, but when the bird tips its head
forwards you can see some lovely ginger feather bases. All this points to
the bird being in its first basic plumage rather than an adult female.

Interestingly, the bird has just started its second prebasic moult - I saw
an inner primary growing in when the bird stretched its wings while
preening, and Jeff Davies, who saw the bird front-on, says he saw an adult
female feather coming through on the foreneck. If the bird stays for a
couple of months, and if the sequence of plumages described in HANZAB turns
out to be correct, then by the start of 2002 Banyule should have a stunning
bird in adult female plumage.

I suspect there is only a single bird at Banyule - perhaps a stray bird
driven out of the Riverina stronghold by the drought up there. The dull head
pattern is similar to the male head pattern shown in field guides, but the
barred wing-coverts without big buff spots show that it isn't a male. I got
some photos of the Banyule bird when I saw it, and Tony Palliser has kindly
agreed to post one on his website; it should appear in the next day or so.
Follow the links to photos after getting to the website at:

Perhaps those folk who thought the Banyule bird was male could have a look
at the photo to see if they were looking at the same bird? As an aside, my
shot looks very ordinary indeed compared to the amazing seabird photos Tony
has been getting with his newest camera - have a browse around the site, it
will make your eyes pop.

Cheers, Danny Rogers


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