This was a morning sortie in search of snipes, but I will spare you the ordeal of more confusing snipe photos, and post a few of the other birds I saw.
At least these are easy to identify! A female Greater Painted-snipe – one of many in a small patch of marsh which was still wet. Such places are increasingly scarce in this prolonged drought period we’ve been experiencing, so finding one is like finding a goldmine for marsh-birds and marsh-birders alike!
Painted-snipes are one of the relatively few wader families in which the females are polyandrous, mating with several males, and taking no part in incubating the eggs or rearing the young. They initiate courtship and display, and in consequence, are more brightly coloured than the males. Despite the name, painted-snipes are not true snipes, nor are they closely related.
In contrast to November, there was no sign of active wing and tail moult, though this photo suggests that one or two tail and secondary feathers may be missing. It’s difficult to judge the freshness of the tail as the tips were wet and partly matted.
The contrast between the pale fringes and dark centres of the tertials and exposed secondaries is strikingly different from the relatively plain wing of Black-browed.
- long, heavy-looking bill
- unmarked yellow lower mandible
- clearly demarcated dark lores and eyestripe (which contrasts behind the eye with pale lower ear coverts)
- the short dark lateral crown stripe (on Black-browed, it extends to the rear of the supercilium)
- pale iris
- supercilium narrowing over the eye
- overall bright, warm plumage tones
- quite bright pink legs
- the remarkably long tail
Smart birds, and once you get your eye and ear in, quite easily distinguished from Black-browed.