Although I absolutely love to see the high octane, glamorous stuff such as dolphins and seals, the stealth and silence of a kayak and the ability to slink about where other craft fear to creep, can provide some memorable sightings of the less showy wildlife. Creatures that the vast majority of people overlook.
Snipe are the perfect example of this. They are not common down by the sea, but frosty weather means that they cannot probe the frozen ground around freshwater margins with their long beaks so they are forced to find softer conditions for feeding along the saltwater estuaries.
Also their modus operandi when approached by a threat (e.g. a human in a kayak) is to hunker down and rely on their camouflage to avoid detection. They are so convinced this will work they will only take to the wing when you are a few feet away. This is the usual snipe encounter….a bird which you never saw on the ground zigzagging off into the sky.
This particular day started grey and cold and I wondered why I bothered turfing out.
I had seen a kingfisher zip past and enjoyed a view of a few Greenshank and Curlew and the odd Little Grebe close to the shore.
In a patch of seaweed on the bank the slightest movement caught my eye, and I drifted a bit closer without moving a muscle.
It’s easy to see why they are confident about their cryptic colouration, it’s almost impossible to see.
As I watched it decided to have a bit of a smarten up…. I would imagine it can’t have been that easy with a preening tool that long.
I circled round for another couple of passes as this is the first Snipe I had seen from my kayak, on the ground, for several years.
When I got a bit too close it flattened itself down, but still didn’t take the option of using its wings.
How many Snipe have I passed without noticing them? Watching this video, you might think that number was quite large, because it is almost impossible to see.
Suddenly the weather perked up and a bit of wintry colour appeared. Such as the legs and beaks of these Redshank. Nice to hear the Robin singing in the background.
Everything looks a lot warmer in the late January sun, even if technically it isn’t.
The appearance of the sun even prompted the local Herons to renovate their nest which took a bit of a battering in the winter storms. The first bit of nest-building I have seen this year. Spring can’t be far off.
Anyone for a bit of trainspotting?
I certainly got close enough for a look at the number: