13 November 2014

Winter of the Wisp

During the winter, our population of Snipe increases with an influx of birds from the continent and in some years this could be as many as a million birds. The reports of Snipe into our Ringing Scheme mainly come from hunters reporting them shot (90%+).

Summer Snipe in Iceland - Nigel Clark

We recently heard of one of these birds being 'found' this way in County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. This bird was ringed on 1 August 2013 as a juvenile bird at Turov, Zhitkovichi district, Belarus and made the 2,302 km movement to Ireland. This is the fourth Belarusian-ringed Snipe to be found in the UK or Ireland; the majority of foreign birds come from Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark.

Ring recoveries show Snipe that breed in the north of the UK move to Ireland for the winter and Snipe that breed in the south of the UK move to France or Spain, with a few moving to the near continent. This draws on some parallels with Blackcap that we have reported previously, where birds come to the UK and Ireland for the winter while some or all of our UK and Ireland population go south.

So far this year the winter has been unseasonably warm, so we haven't experienced large movements of Snipe yet but in the next few weeks it is forecast that as the temperature will drop in Russia and central Europe, and so water bodies freeze over, more Snipe should reach these shores. If the temperature doesn't drop, the reporting rate via BirdTrack might continue to decrease.

Keep informed on Snipe predicted movements on the BTO Migration Blog.

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