Tuesday, November 27, 2012


November is a funny month for the bird world. Migration is mostly over, but stray birds still move around, and others start to appear with such subtlety, with such little fanfare and announcing, that one wonders if they ever left at all. One such bird is the Wilson's Snipe (yes, a Snipe is a real bird). These sneaky shorebirds turn up in Arizona and the southern half of the U.S. throughout the winter. They're secretive by nature, but towards the end of November they start appearing out of the foggy, misty mud in the Phoenix marshes. I enjoy when their pictures then start turning up over the blogosphere, and try my hand at Snipe sniping as well.

Wilson's Snipes have excellent camouflage and are generally silent. Sometimes they feed out in the open, but more often than not these birds are seen after they've flushed. The Gilbert Water Ranch is one of the best places around Phoenix to see these birds and maybe snap a few photos, as the shallow mudflats they favor are mercifully close to pedestrian paths.

They feed the most openly in the mornings and evenings, like many birds, but in my personal experiences I've found them to be more crepuscular, and see them the most often at dusk. Naturally, this makes photographing them tricky.
At least there'll be Dowitchers nearby no matter what when where how or why.