It is different in terms of body and proportions. Brown surface of the bird’s body covered with sophisticated pattern provides a perfect camouflage. Its belly is white, dark-striped. Males and females look alike. Both genders are characterized by a long bill used to dig in the ground and rummage in search of favourite worms.
The great snipe spends winter in Central Africa. It arrives in Poland in April and May and departs from August to October. Its habitat nowadays constitutes extremely rare wild, marshy meadows and bogs in river valleys, far from human settlements.
The great snipe is an extremely persistent traveller – it takes off in Central Africa and flies continuously until the Biebrza Marshes and the Scandinavian Peninsula. The speed with which it travels reaches 97 km/h, making it one of the fastest birds in the so-called active flight (in contrast to e.g. a stoop). Some of the birds cover a distance of almost 7000km in just over 48 hours!
Great snipes are known for their late evening and night tooting grounds. Nothing can be seen after all –characteristic chirp, clatter and whirr of wings of roused males are the only thing that’s heard. Birds are used to the same tooting grounds each year. Tooting grounds form a network, if possible, and males cruse between different arenas. Each of them has a tiny district and toots on his clump of grass. Fights between males may occur on the border districts.
The great snipe belongs to wild, swampy backwoods - rapidly disappearing landscapes. At present, when the European great snipe is covered by species protection and it may not be hunted, key threat refers to the loss of habitat (land reclamation and intensification of agriculture) - both on the breeding and winter sites. The Polish population is estimated at a maximum of 750-850 males - and probably even fewer females.
Author: Jacek Karczewski Source: Birds of Poland