Jack Snipes forage at night

I’ve not seen too many Jack Snipes / Zwergschnepfen (Lymnocryptes minimutus) in my life and I guess that most observers haven’t had a lot of sightings either. A main reason for this is the species‘ acitivity pattern: Jack Snipes forage mostly at night. Most of you will know them from photos at extremely close distance, usually after birds had been flushed and then approached after landing. They only take flight at extremely short distance – you usually have to almost step on the bird before it flies off. But this is only how Jack Snipes behave during daytime, when they mostly rest. At night, during their peak time of activity, they seem to behave in a very different way and also go to much more open, less covered wetland habitats to feed. They even fly back and forth between daytime roosts and nighttime foraging sites.

The trail cameras that I left at the photo hide at St. Martins Therme & Lodge in Frauenkirchen (Burgenland, Austria) over winter took many photos of a Jack Snipe. The bird came to the mudflat the camera pointed at every night between 7 and 11 January 2020. The photos document its presence only for a limited time each night, always at temperatures well below 0°C. The shallow water didn’t freeze because the wetland, a restoration effort of a soda pan habitat, is being irrigated with natural thermal water (38°C) . The bird was present during a large timespan (18.15-4.19h): 7 Jan 18:15-20:20h, 8 Jan 20:58-23:41h, 9 Jan 00:03, 10 Jan 01:44-04:19h, 11 Jan 03:13-04:15h. Very different from what we usually see from that species during the day, the bird is walking around the mudflat very actively.

The following clip shows a timelapse of the trail camera images. I also included one image (with Water Rail) at daylight at the end of the video to show the habitat.

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