My Snipe Hunt Finally Ends

I’m not sure whether I should admit it or not, but the highlight of my week-long trip to Malheur and Big Bear was a shot of two little birds I saw while driving on the main road in Malheur Wildlife Refuge quite early in the morning of my second day there.

At first I didn’t even think too much about them because there are a lot of birds on the road at Malheur, usually doves or sparrows. As I got closer, though, I had an “aha” moment, suddenly realizing they were Snipes, a bird I’ve been trying to photograph since I started birding several years ago, one of the last birds in my favorite birding book that I haven’t gotten a shot of.

With that, I opened the door and started to get out of the car, only to realize it was still rolling forward. After quickly stopping the car, I stood behind the open door trying to get a shot before they disappeared into the thick grass. Luckily they didn’t just dive into the grass, and I was able to get several shots, though none of them is a particularly striking shot.

This is the best shot of the group,


while this was the best shot of a single bird.


They were quite distant, though, and the pictures have been heavily cropped, but they are certainly Snipes, and, in this case, that’s what was important. I must admit I was shocked at how small these birds turned out to be; I’ve always been looking for a larger bird.

As much as I claim not to have a “life-list” of birds, there are definitely birds I want to see, both ones I have never seen before and ones I have seen before but particularly enjoy seeing. This was my “trophy” bird of this trip. It was especially a treat because I did not have any expectation of seeing snipes here, though I might in the future. My disappointment in not getting any good pictures of White-faced Ibis or Avocets at Malheur, the birds I did come to see, was outweighed by the good fortune of this sighting.

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