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A common but often overlooked winter visitor that may still nest in Dorset in damp places



Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

Snipe: lying low

Post date: Saturday, 8 November, 2014 - 00:00

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) are not exactly rare birds in Dorset but I seldom see them. The reason is actually quite obvious from my photograph!

They are not big waders and they are dull, streaky brown which makes for ideal camouflage. Unlike many waders who are quite happy to get out on the mud flats at low tide to feed the snipe never does, they like to keep themselves away from open spaces and 'hide' in reeds or amongst salt-marsh grasses.

Snipe have no really distinctive features other than that long pointed bill and yet they are quite obvious to identify, even from a distance. They are generally a winter visitor although a very small number may possibly nest on damp, boggy areas on our heaths; this will only be a handful though at most. Those that over winter here can generally be found in places where there are scrapes and salt-marsh such a Lodmore, Radipole, Arne and Christchurch harbour.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Snipe
Scientific Name Gallinago gallinago
Status Local
Interest Level
Species Family Sandpipers
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for Brown waders with brown streaked backs and long pointed bills
Additional Identification Notes
  • Snipe are not uncommon in winter but are often quite difficult to see as they are well camouflaged and tend to blend with their surroundings
  • Although mud feeders they often shun open spaces and feed in channels amongst saltmarsh or around the edge of reed beds
  • If you see a very small version of the snipe check out the much rarer jack snipe