Gordon Yates – Jack Snipe

Gordon Yates is a wildlife photographer and many of his superb images of Hen Harriers have graced these pages over the years.

He sent me this image of a Jack Snipe in the snow and said that it was the first he’d ever managed to photograph. It’s rare to see the bird this well.

Jack Snipe are smaller than Common Snipe, don’t jink about when flushed and don’t normally call when flushed. They are renowned for sitting very tight and often fly up from literally under one’s foot if you walk through a wetland.

I remember walking through a wet field in Denmark with some others (we were told to!) and we were looking for Jack Snipe. I think that between us we flushed about eight and none of us spotted them on the ground, even though we thought we were looking hard for them.

I haven’t seen one for a few years though there are local records here in Northants at the moment.

Sometimes, at a nature reserve, there is a Jack Snipe feeding just outside a hide and you can really get a good look at the bird. They bob up and down a lot een when walking along, and often feed with a rapid motion a bit like a sewing machine. What is that bobbing all about?


Here’s a handy BTO identification guide to the two species which gives you some more views of Jack Snipe in case you haven’t been lucky enough to come across one in the wild.


Tim Melling has been photographing Jack Snipe too – I’ll post his image on Saturday at 6pm.


3 Replies to “Gordon Yates – Jack Snipe”

  1. I have seen them on the ground but it is usually at the moment of take off so I suspect movement drew my eye. When in the hand for ringing they are rather beautiful and one wonders how they are so cryptic but cryptic they certainly are. My “best” 14 flushed with colleagues near Ripon and even longer ago 16 flushed from a juncus lined stream near Knaresborough when local still waters were frozen. They would have course been better left undisturbed. Flushing them on Fair Isle has in the pas been a regular autumnal thing too, now not until 2023 it seems.

  2. I think i have mentioned before, so briefly, about 40 years ago late one night , my dad traced a fluttering noise to behind the sideboard int’ front room, turned out to be a Jack Snipe breathing its last.
    Obviously ? brought in by, and escaped from the cat, which was not known for its hunting ability, the house was backed by a ploughed field, pub car park, and grave yard. The River Rother being at least half a mile away.
    Given to a dodgy taxidermist, it was lost when his “freezer went down”, along with a cock Sparrowhawk that Chris Packham would have rubbed his thighs raw over, and an egg bound Curlew. A sorry episode.

  3. Could the bobbing be a camouflage technique? When you’re small, movement blurs your outline without being enough to draw attention to you from a distance perhaps.

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