Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Great White Snipe or Snowcock?

The first two evenings of woodcock ringing got off to a good start this autumn with a golden plover, a meadow pipit and nine woodcock ringed including this leucistic individual. At first while at quite a distance away, it stood out so much in the lamp that it looked as if it was either a barn owl or a polythene bag, but its bobbing head reduced the options to barn owl. Then when a little closer it began running through the pasture looking very woodcock-like apart from the colour. It soon settled and was duly caught, and what an amazing bird! It was assumed that it must be a first year bird as a species such as woodcock which has evolved to be so cryptically-plumaged must have very poor survival prospects when adorned with such bright colours, but the bird was almost certainly an adult based on the wear of its longest primaries, the shape of the inner primary tips and the shape of the axillaries. At 372g it was obviously very healthy and a single completely typical secondary feather appeared to be retained suggesting that the bird may have had typical plumage before moulting and developed leucism as an adult.

Paddy and Paul

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