THE KILNSEA GREAT SNIPE

The Kilnsea Great Snipe (Mike Watson) 

THE 2013 KILNSEA GREAT SNIPE WILL LONG BE REMEMBERED alongside the likes of other ultra tame stars of the past like the Cuckmere Haven Little Crake, Westleton Nutcracker, Sunderland Baillon’s Crake and the Grainthorpe Steppe Grey Shrike, as one of the most confiding British rarities. Pete and I eventually decided to desert the Birdquest office for the rest of the day and dashed east to Spurn, where the snipe was in view immediately on arrival in Beacon Lane. Roosting in the open on the edge of a field, next to a small pile of hay it was quite unsteady trying to balance on one leg in the gusting wind. We followed it around for nearly five hours, watching it feed very actively in the damp turf of the caravan site, resting from time to time. Most likely it was a tired migrant trying to put on fat reserves for the next leg of its journey south. It was a beautifully marked bright juvenile, covered in intricate barring and at times it positively shone in the late afternoon sun. Incredibly unconcerned, it would also walk right up to people, including me, to around only 10cm away. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us and it is so sad that I am now writing in the knowledge that it was found dead the following morning, with its tail missing and chest ripped open, suspected to have been the work of a predator... maybe a cat? This was such a tragic end for a truly wonderful bird. I saw another interesting statistic that Great Snipe is also now the current British Birds rarity species with the most previous records, however, many of these are historic, owing to their continued decline in Europe as well as the happy demise of snipe shooting in the UK. 

Unforgettable! The Kilnsea Great Snipe (Mike Watson)