I had a quick walk around Begola Wetlands (Ocean Grove) late this
afternoon. Latham's Snipe has been easy to see here since they returned at
the end of August. At the moment there is no exposed mud around the main
lagoon, but two berms at the western end of the reserve have shallow water
and a little mud, and it's easy to see Snipe around the edges of these, and
occasionally well out in the open.
Today an ultralight aircraft flew over slowly (not sure of the technical
term, but it was suspended under a parachute, with a propeller behind the
pilot's harness). I guess the birds thought it was a huge raptor - the
behaviour of different species was interesting. Silver Gulls and Masked
Lapwings circled the reserve, calling loudly. Some of the Great Cormorants
that had been on the bank joined the gulls and lapwings. Chestnut and Grey
Teal all rafted up in the centre of the main lagoon, in open water - well
over a hundred birds. Pacific Black Duck, Coots and Swamphen stayed where
they were. Oddest of all, Snipe flew in circles around the reserve, very
high, almost as high as the ultralight, but not close to it. One group had
8 or 9 birds, and a few others of 3 or 4 birds also flew very high. A few
individual Snipe did the same thing.
Is this usual behaviour for Latham's Snipe when confronted with a huge
raptor? I've only ever seen them flush low and fly a short distance before.
Some of the birds today circled for 10-20 seconds or longer, and much
higher than I've seen them fly and return to the same lagoon. They were
higher than the Welcome Swallows and Lapwing, so probably at the very top
of the circling mass of birds. Of course, I'd left my camera in the car!
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