A couple reference books tell me that the Jack Snipe is the proper name for
another species - Lymnocrytes minimus, of far northern Europe and it does
not migrate to anywhere near us. It is given the name Jack to make the
distinction from the Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, because it is so
similar to that one, but it is smaller and that jack is a diminutive word. I
find it is hard to imagine why it would be put in another genus. It looks
like the snipe are a very homogenous group. So the name Jack has no real
connection to Jap, which of course means Japanese, where the species you are
writing about, that we call Latham?s Snipe, breeds. Of course it is hardly
surprising that shooters would use the name of another species for the one
that comes here. Jack is an easy word.
Interesting though about the large numbers you report. I'm a bit lost what
to think about the "Atomic Bombs on ? Bikini Atoll ? (Mururroa ) and Jack
Snipe were found to have Radioactive material in their brains" statement.
From: Birding-Aus On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, 31 March 2015 9:24 PM
Subject: Jack Snipe
Someone wrote the other day of a fairly large flock of Latham?s Snipe seen
which I feel would be gathering to head back home to Japan to breed.
Years ago they were keenly sought after by hunters to shoot and they were
then known as Jack Snipe, then Jap Snipe and now Latham?s Snipe.
Years ago when farming in Northern Victoria I had a swamp behind the dairy
where the effluent flowed when the cow yard was washed and was
known as one of the best haunts of Jack Snipe in the district.
The Snipe loved the swamp with 2 foot high grass cover with the manure
through it and would come in the hundreds to spend the Summer there.
A few would come in on a full moon and were always called the ?Call Birds ?
and woe betide anyone that interfered with them, there would be
between 20 to 30 and some years 40 to 50 sitting quietly during the day and
moving around just on dark or at dawn.
Over the few days around the next full moon they would call in hundreds some
years 5 to 6 hundred would be feeding in the swamp approx. ½ a km
long by 200 mts wide to 400 mts wide in the widest spot.
Just on dark they would work there was up the drain that was taking the
manure into the swamp and would become immune to whoever was working in the
They could be seen probing with their long beaks, head bobbing up and down
rapidly chasing a 15 mm long sausage shaped grub with a 10 mm long
narrow pin shaped tail, each morning the manure in the drain would be a mass
They were considered by shooters as the best game bird to hunt as they would
take off in a flurry from the long grass with a Peep and a Poop and a zig,
zagging very fast flight, I don?t know if the Peep made them Poop or the
Poop made them Peep ?????
They would burst from cover, sometimes climbing very high and then drop
like a stone into the long grass to freeze where they landed or run for
some distance not moving till flushed again.
Tiger snakes were always a problem at that time of the year and were a good
deterrent to city slickers wanting to shoot the swamp..
The Snipe would group up in the hundreds at the end of March into April and
would be gone around the full moon not returning till late spring.
I was away one weekend and a group of Ethnic Chaps came in without
permission and shot up the ?Call Birds? and there was never many Snipe to be
seen in the swamp ever again.
A few years later there was dramatic drop in numbers of birds to be found in
the area and the powers that be stopped the hunting of them here in
Australia and Japan followed suit in the early 70s
It was around the time the French were testing their Atomic Bombs on ?
Bikini Atoll ? (Mururroa ) and Jack Snipe were found to have Radioactive
in their brains caused by flying over the Atoll and it was felt at the time
it had a detrimental effect on the Snipe numbers.
Sixty years later and the Islands are still unliveable.
The dramatic drop in numbers has never been reversed due to habitat removal,
drainage of swamps etc here and the destruction of breeding areas in Japan.
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