Belongs to: breeding waders

Compare with: jack snipe

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Long-billed wader with streaked cream and green back, frequenting wet margins

Habitat: freshwater marshes and flooded fields with plenty of low cover

Once abundant resident, now very localized as a result of drainage of wet meadows: only a few pairs breed in Essex


Long legs and very long bill, dark streaked upperparts; 25–27 cm

Tends to keep to cover but feeds in open when not alarmed; flies off in zig-zag flight when disturbed; gregarious

Eats worms and insects, feeding with fast sewing machine-like action


In display flight, males make a distinctive drumming noise with outer tail feathers

Nest is a lined hollow on ground; 1 or 2 broods April to May; 4 pale green eggs with brown blotches

In winter the resident population is swelled by immigrants from northern Europe

© Alan Williams