Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Bog Bleater, She-goat of the Air
Status: Summer visitor from west Europe and west Africa, winter visitor from Faeroe Islands, Iceland and northern Scotland.
Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland due to concerns over the European population which has undergone a moderate recent decline.
Identification: A relatively common wader but not easily seen, unless flushed out of marshy vegetation, when it typically towers away in a frantic zig zag fashion. The disproportionately long, straight bill is easily visible in flight. If you are lucky enough to see one standing partially or wholly out in the open (usually at the edge of reeds), you will make out the series of dark brown, pale buff and black stripes and bars on the head and body - this produces a good camouflage effect.
Similar Species: Jack Snipe, Woodcock
Call: Flight call an abrupt "scratch..". Song includes a far-carrying "chipper, chipper…" often at night - sometimes delivered from a fence post. During display flights over the nesting territory, they make an eerie goat bleating sound - this is called drumming and it is produced by stiff feathers sticking out at the tail sides, which vibrate as the bird flies in a roller coaster pattern in the sky.
Diet: Diet consists largely of vegetable matter and seeds, and earthworms, tipulid larvae and other soil invertebrate fauna.
Breeding: Nests on the ground, usually concealed in a grassy tussock, in or near wet or boggy terrain. Young leave the nest soon after hatching.
Wintering: Highly dispersed distribution in winter. They forage across a variety of wetland and damp habitats. Particularly high concentrations are found on the fringes of lowland lakes
Where to see: Underrecorded during surveys. Shannon & Fergus Estuary in County Clare, Ballymacoda in County Cork and Tralee Bay, Lough Gill & Akeragh Lough in Kerry have supported the highest numbers (>150 birds).