There was a sudden, explosive, whir of wings, then the compact pigeon-sized bird – a Snipe, flew swiftly and directly to the other side of the wetland. Because it few low over the waist-high rushes and sedges and didn’t fly in a straight line, I lost sight of it pretty quickly, but there was no mistaking it – a snipe and most likely a Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii). Its also known as the Japanese Snipe, invoking the far-off lands that it migrates to each year at the end of our summer season.
It lives in permanent and ephemeral wetlands, with low, dense vegetation (e.g. swamps, flooded grasslands or heathlands, around bogs and other water bodies). Having seriously declined in numbers in recent decades, Latham’s Snipe has been listed by State and Australian Governments as a Threatened Species.
And today I recorded this bird from an area of wetland on the Tableland (not far north of Strathbogie), that was a mixture of taller shrubby ‘tea-tree’ vegetation (our Perched Boggy Shrubland) and larger expanses of swamp, with interspersed wet meadows full of wildflowers. Location of sighting- click here.
Though it looks grassy, most of the plants here are sedges, reeds, rushes and small herbs, indicating that its often a very wet area – this year that’s an understatement! In places, the water was 15 cm deep over several hectares of this marsh-land. Fantastic habitat for Snipe and other secretive fauna.