A water rail was squealing as we looked out across the fresh-water pool to an islet where water birds roosted. Shoveler of bold colours and long, broad bill. A cluster of Pintail, an elegant duck with long central tail feathers. Sheltering on the far side of the islet were some four or five snipe. Roosting with heads turned and bills tucked into the feathers of their mantles. These birds might seem somnolent but their eyes were watchful.
Pintail are such a beautiful duck, their plumage exquisite. But I neglected them because the snipe posed a challenge. Sometimes a blink of the eye reveals them, or a slight movement. Editing images, I marvel at intricacies of pattern and colour. The snipe is dark chocolate and rich cream, bold stripes and a head like a humbug, breast tiny flecks of dark on white.
Somehow, the zoom on video works better than for still images. So I came home with videos which show snipe well. One bird uses its long, straight bill to preen its breast feathers, revealing a darker down beneath. Then the bird raises its wader's foot and scratches itself below the head. In photographing snipe, I'm looking beyond the brightly coloured Shoveler- and so showing its lovely colouring. And the beautiful patterns and subtle colours of Pintail plumage. I'm also playing hunt the snipe, both at Leighton Moss and back home in editing. They keep popping up.