Snipe ID? - More photos

To: "'Andrew Bell'" <>, <>
Subject: Snipe ID? - More photos
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 05:43:32 +1100
G'day Andrew,

I had a very quick look at your bird a couple of days back and was swayed by
the half toe length projection beyond tail tip of the bird in flight to
think it was probably a Swinhoe's, and quickly interpreted everything else
about the bird accordingly without looking closely enough.

But I set aside more time last night for a more prolonged look without the
blinkers on and almost straight away decided the plumage seems a perfect fit
for Latham's.

First off whatever it is it is in first winter plumage, eg retained juvenile
wing and tail combined with fresh first adult head, breast and back.

Secondly it's the wrong relative shape for a Pintail, much too long in the
rear end and the fanned tail of the flying bird is completely wrong, also
Pintail tends to project almost a full foot beyond tail tip in flight. There
are other features also wrong for pintail but these are enough.

Negatives on this bird for Swinhoe's would be, too much brown flecking in
crown stripe, cheek stripe not dark enough especially under and forward of
the eye, the lower of the two stripes running away behind the eye is not
darkly defined enough, and this would go also for the loral stripe which
should be a tad thicker at the bill, the dark juv markings in the wing
coverts and tertials are not broad and black enough, the ground colour of
these coverts and tertials in juv Swinhoe's is often a more richer brown
than shown here. The relative tarsus length to the bird's body seems a tad
too short and finally the outer tail feathers are not really dark enough.
All of these features can be somewhat individually variable but taken all
together I feel they are convincing.

All the negatives I have described for Swinhoe's are perfect for a juv
Latham's. The only problem is the toe projection, but it is a short half toe
and the bird does have a juvenile length tail.

So my suggestion would be  first winter Latham's Snipe and I am reasonably
confident about it, or I am for the moment anyhow.

Cheers Jeff.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Andrew Bell
Sent: Saturday, 11 December 2010 9:13 PM
Subject: Snipe ID? - More photos

Dear All


Still trying to decide what to call the Katherine Sewerage Ponds snipe. I
managed some more photos today including some in flight, posted here:


On previously posted shots I have had votes for all three species, but
everyone with an "I'm not a snipe expert" disclaimer.


I'm hovering between Swinhoe's and Pin-tailed, with probable Swinhoe's based
on the limited resolution view of the tail. However it's behaviour does not
seem Swinhoe's,  when flushed it flies low and direct and doesn't call. I
also think the bill is lighter than I thought it should be in a Swinhoe's
and the very wide supercilium in front of the eye makes me think Pin-tailed.


So - any Snipe-sperts out there? Or is it too hard without having the bird
in the hand?




Andrew Bell


- Also a nice Black Bittern at Chinaman's Creek near Katherine this
afternoon - led me a merry chase from tree to tree along the creek. 



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