Saturday, 22 October 2016
Bird of the week - Jack snipe
Jack snipes are small and elusive and are usually not easy to see but we are lucky to have a few near the main hide in Gosforth Park Nature Reserve at present. When visible, the birds are nearly always in shade at the edges of the reeds and the photos are all a bit distant and cropped but are not too bad considering. Jack snipes differ from common snipes in being smaller with a proportionately shorter beak and a dark top to the head. Their stripes glow like gold leaf as they run around. The birds characteristically bob up and down while feeding. Their beaks are often covered in thick mud.
They are hard to spot if they don't move and are beautifully camouflaged.
Jack snipes usually keep out of the way of water rails.
The jack snipe is Lymnocryptes minimus, meaning smallest marsh-hider. "Jack" means small. It breeds in Northern Europe and is a winter visitor in the British Isles.
The latest BirdTrack data show jack snipes began arriving in the UK last month.
This EBCC map shows its breeding range.
Thomas Bewick knew the jack snipe as the Judcock.
He wrote that it is cooked in the same way as a common snipe and is just as delicious! He doesn't say how many birds would make up one serving.
You can watch a BTO video on identification of common snipe and jack snipe here. And listen to Chris Watson's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on jack snipe here.