Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 07/02/2015

Photo taken on June 10, 2015

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Gallinago gallinago
side view
SW of Calgary
Anne Elliott
Wilson's Snipe
late spring
10 June 2015
fence post

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One of my favourites to photograph

One of my favourites to photograph

Love seeing and photographing Wilson Snipes, especially when they are perched on a fence post rather than on the ground. This Snipe was one of my usual ones, seen on 10 June 2015, when I took a drive along some of the backroads SW of the city.

This was one of the birds I came across on a "magical evening" that I have described under several previously posted photos. Normally, I never go out in the evening - usually just too tired and there are all sorts of things needing to be done on my computer. However, having driven SW of the city the previous day and noticing a baby Mountain Bluebird poking its head out of its nesting box, I knew that any time now it and its siblings would be suddenly gone. Since then, I have been back one time and a Tree Swallow poked its head out of the Bluebird nesting box, letting me know that this Bluebird family had fledged and moved away.

It was early evening when I left home on 10 June, after a volunteer shift and a haircut. Really, I was just going to check on the Bluebirds and was not expecting to see all that much else.That's how the evening started, but as the evening progressed, the world seemed to come alive with bird song and activity. It has been a long, long time since I've experienced that, if ever.

Though my trip was mainly just to check on the Bluebirds, I was also lucky to see an American Robin sitting on a barbed-wire fence just a couple of feet away from a brilliant blue male Bluebird. Talk about colour! They were way down the road, so I was only able to get a very distant shot. Also saw a number of Snipe that I love photographing.

When I reached the point where I was going to turn around and head for home, I saw yet another Snipe perched on a fence. Just a few feet from it, on the same fence, was a beautiful Swainson's Hawk! After posing for a while, both birds took off, with the Hawk in hot pursuit of the Snipe.

Closer to home, I suddenly spotted a beautiful female Moose at a small wetland, right before I turned on to the main highway. Eventually, she left and started walking along the road away from the highway. I crawled along in my car, watching her way in the distance. She kept walking from side to side of the road and then stopped to lick some salt off the road, bending her front legs to kneel in what looked a very awkward move : ) When she had walked further down the road, I stopped my car and turned on the hazard flashing lights, as she wasn't too obvious in the shadows from the trees at the edge of the road. I can see how easily a collision can happen! Fortunately, only one car came along, from behind my car, and the guy slowed down and was smiling. Took a while, but eventually the huge, majestic animal leapt over a barbed-wire fence and sauntered off into the trees.

Driving back to the highway, I stopped to watch three or four young White-tailed Deer having fun at the same wetland. One of them was standing in the water and would occasionally stamp one of its front legs to make a splash and then bound away a few feet. Funny to watch and so good to see it playing so happily. The late evening sun gave their coats such a rich colour.

So, it was quite the evening, to say the least! I drove all the way home with a big smile on my face.

"These plump, long-billed birds are among the most widespread shorebirds in North America. They can be tough to see thanks to their cryptic brown and buff coloration and secretive nature. But in summer they often stand on fence posts or take to the sky with a fast, zigzagging flight and an unusual “winnowing” sound made with the tail." From AllAboutBirds.

"Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) is a small, stocky shorebird. This species was considered to be a subspecies of the Common Snipe (G. gallinago) until 2003 when it was given its own species status. Wilson's Snipe differs from the latter species in having a narrower white trailing edge to the wings, and eight pairs of tail feathers instead of the typical seven of the Common Snipe. Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson." From Wikipedia.'s_snipe

According to Fisher and Acorn's book, "Birds of Alberta", "the common Snipe is both secretive and well camouflaged, so few people notice it until it flushes suddenly from a nearby grassy tussock. As soon as the Snipe takes to the air, it performs a series of quick zigzags - an evasive maneuver designed to confuse predators. Because of this habit, Snipes were among the most difficult birds to shoot (in the days when shorebirds were hunted for sport), and skilled sportsmen were known as "snipers" - a term later adopted by the military."