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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Snipe

Bird Sightings - Snipe


Gallinago gallinago

Gaelic: Gobhar-adhair, Naosg

Photograph © Terry Fountain
Bornish - South Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
10th May, 2006


Our Snipe photographs

Common Snipe
Common Snipe
Common Snipe





  • Snipe (Common Snipe, Whole Snipe, Full Snipe, Fantail Snipe, Snite, Horse Gokk, Horse Gowk, Snippo, Snip, Water Pleep, Snippek, Little Goat of the Frost)
  • Gallinago gallinago
  • UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 59,300 pairs. Wintering 100,000+ birds RSPB
  • UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • WI: Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs) and passage visitor (small numbers)
  • Breeding: Nest hidden & on ground. Moorland, Marshes, bogs, tundra, wet meadows. Iceland, Faroes, N Europe, N Asia, N America, Russia.
  • Winters: Pool edges in well wetlands with good vegetation. Wet grassland. European birds in S Europe & Africa. Some N European birds join resident UK birds. (N Asian birds go to S Asia)
  • Medium sized, well-camouflaged wader (23-28cm, 11inches length). Short, greenish-grey legs. Very long, straight, dark bill. Mottled brown above (pale buff stripes on back & chest has dark streaks). Pale below. Dark stripe through eye & light stripes above & below eye). Pointed wings. Sexes similar. Skulking - usually shy, hides in ground vegetation. if closely approached takes flight (aerial zig-zags)
    Diet: Forages in soft mud or shallow water, probing & picking up food by sight & touch. Mainly insects, larvae, earthworms, some plant material
  • Typical lifespan 4 yrs. Max recorded age 16yrs
  • Similar birds. Woodcock, Jack Snipe (Starling sized), Bar-tailed Godwit (no dark stripe through eye)


"There is a bird that you may be able to shed light on. I have only heard it at night and it sounds like a pigeon on steroids, not a cooing but a grrrrup sort of noise? Any idea from that amazing description as to what it is? It has been calling for over a month and getting replies. "
May 2007

As part of courtship display the male Snipe climbs high in sky then dives down at a slant with tail feathers spread. The air rushing through causes the outermost tail feathers to vibrate and makes a sound which is heard in the early mornings and warm summer evenings, it is called drumming, winnowing, and sometimes bleating. There is a recording on this page (British Library Sound Archive)



Snipe in the Western Isles

Fairly common migrant breeder (100 - 999 breeding pairs) and passage visitor (small numbers)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



Collective nouns for Snipe

More than one bird is called a wisp of Snipe, or a walk of Snipe.



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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