Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Having a dig

Mothing was quick this morning, with only two moths in four traps. It had been a wild and wet night, and I really shouldn't have bothered. All the traps and egg boxes needed drying out today. The huge influx in feeding finches, mainly Goldfinches, this week has meant that my garden feeders are emptying at a fast rate at the moment and I went to Malibu Bird foods in Shatterling for supplies. Of course on the way back I popped into the hide at Restharrow scrape. There were disappointingly few birds there, but a Snipe did parade in front of the hide.

Snipe is an interesting word, to most birders it means a long billed wader in the genus Gallinago. It can mean to attack (a person or persons) with a rifle from a place of concealment, but hopefully there's not much of that in Kent. The third meaning, to criticize adversely a person or persons from a position of security, is always a temptation where the internet is involved. Reading some of the comments on recent birding blogs, even those on their swansong, it seems its an irresistible temptation to some.

I took the picture above, and several more, because Snipe, when fully in the open, are very photogenic with their amazing cryptic plumage. But more striking is that amazing long bill, used from probing in the mud. Although it looks a pretty solid weapon it is in fact quite flexible. The tip is full of sensitive nerves, used for finding the prey and the bill is then opened at the tip and the prey drawn in by the tongue. Like the strangely twisted beak of the Crossbill yesterday, the Snipe's beak is beautifully adapted to it's way of life, and both can still preen successfully with these cumbersome looking instruments.

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