TUROV GREAT SNIPE LEK

A Great Snipe in full display at its lek by the Pripyat River in Belarus

A VISIT TO A GREAT SNIPE LEK IS ANOTHER OF THOSE 100 THINGS FOR A BIRDER TO DO... We were very fortunate to be able to have a number of photo hide sessions overlooking one of the Great Snipe leks by the Pripyat River near Turov. I have visited the Narew Valley lek in Poland several times and have always been a bit disappointed by poor views of the birds in long grass so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to watch the snipes here in much shorter grass and at very close range. After last autumn's individual at Spurn one could be excused for thinking that such an encounter could not be bettered but that is until you see them lekking! Their display starts with a clicking of the bill and then the birds eventually fluff up their plumage and throw back their heads, while make peculiar popping sounds, ending with a flash of their striking wing markings and their bright white outer tail feathers. Birds were on the lek by around 1630 but activity did not really get going until later when the females visit and there is more fighting between the males. Great Snipe is listed as near threatened by BirdLife International owing to a decreasing population and the main problem it now faces in Belarus is scrubbing over of untended meadows by willow trees. Most of the males were ringed and the folks from the ringing station in Turov told us they also carry geolocators that have tracked them to their wintering grounds in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).