The Secretive Snipe


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 3rd November, 2007

bircheshazel leafWALKING ALONG the woodland path with low afternoon sun filtered through green and gold foliage, it doesn’t feel like November. There’s no chill in the air, no mist amongst the trees.

Being enveloped by glowing colour and texture, from the woodland floor beneath your feet to tree canopy above you, feels as reassuring as putting on a favourite jumper knitted from soft, speckled autumnal yarns.


hawthorn leafhawsCrimson haws are dotted on the ground by the hedges but, this afternoon, there aren’t hoards of redwing and fieldfare feasting on them; we see only 2 or 3 redwings on our walk.

But there are a surprising number of moorhens – 12 of them, heads down, pecking amongst the grass of a narrow pasture between the canal and river.


snipesnipetealAs we watch two teal on the small pond at the gate end of the field, we notice a snipe probing the soft mud between the rushes at the water’s edge. There are probably often snipe about, but they’re so effectively camouflaged with their stripy brown plumage and so likely to be hidden amongst the rushes that you don’t always see them. It’s been a dry autumn which might account for this one seeking out the soft mud at the pond’s edge.