Spotting Latham's Snipe

To: "Peter Shute" <>, <>
Subject: Spotting Latham's Snipe
From: "Peter Shute" <>
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 12:37:26 +1100
Thanks for the replies everyone (all off-list).  I returned the next morning 
and located five birds, one close enough for binocular viewing, and four that 
would have been good if I'd had a scope.

The suggestions I was given were to carefully scan the water edge near the 
vegetation, preferably with a scope.  I was told I shouldn't bother waiting 
longer than 10 or 15 minutes in any one spot if nothing had appeared.  The idea 
is that any birds that have moved into the vegetation upon seeing me might 
eventually come out.

Another suggestion was to scan the edges a long way ahead of where I was 
walking, in order to spot birds that hadn't seen me yet.  Because of the amount 
of pedestrian traffic there (joggers, dogs, prams), this was what worked for me.

The first was seen from the elevated viewing platform at 3 on this map:
The bird was in full sun at 2c, so I would have needed a scope to see it 
properly.  Rather than try to sneak around to see it more closely, I moved to 5 
because I heard, and finally saw, some Blue-faced Honeyeaters in that direction.

There I found one standing in the water about 20m from the bank, and another 
right over the other side. The close one had the sun shining on the water from 
behind, but I was able to kneel right at the bank in full view of it and just 
make out the three stripes on its face, but no tail details other than the 
length.  I moved away from the bank, then turned for another look and it had 
disappeared.  Odd that it waited that long to hide.

I walked around to the opposite bank for a look at the other one in better 
light, but found that the houses on that side extend almost to the bank.  I 
don't know if they really own that land, but it definitely felt like 
trespassing, so I don't go in.  I suspect that what's really happened there is 
that they've extended their yards a little so they can have private jetties. 
For what? Fishing?  Never mind, next time I think I'll try to come to this part 
in the evening instead.

I then returned to the west of the park, 2b on the map, to look for them in 
area 9 where I'd seen them the day before.  Here I saw one in good light, 
facing directly towards me.  I waited for a few minutes for it to turn, but a 
couple with a pram came thundering over the observation deck, and it 
disappeared.  It seems like these birds will freeze if you catch them in the 
open from a close but safe distance, fly if you're too close, or quietly hide 
if they think you haven't seen them.

I found one more standing right in the open on the bank about 100m south of 
there, but too far for binoculars.

I'm very happy with the views I got and that I leant how to find them, so 
thanks everyone,
Peter Shute

-----Original Message-----
From:    on behalf of Peter Shute
Sent:   Thu 27/12/2007 4:01 PM
Subject:        Spotting Latham's Snipe

I've been seeing what I believe are Latham's Snipe in Cussen Park, Tatura, Vic. 
I've flushed several from the edge of the swamp, but they rise so quietly that 
I can't work out exactly where they hide themselves. They don't seem to make 
any noise till they're well up.

Is this the usual way they're seen?  What are my chances of seeing one on the 
ground?  I'm thinking they're feeding in the long grass close to the edge, but 
I just can't spot them till they're up.

Peter Shute

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