Common Snipe in courtship flight
Common Snipes, Gallinago gallinago, are always a prime birdwatchter´s and bird photographers target bird. A beautiful patterned wader that stays hidden normally in the grass, but is seen sometimes in the open; even allowing approach at short distance. If the snipe is startled it will burst out from its cover and fly in a zig-zag pattern to evade predators.
In the internet normally you will find thousands of images with the bird photographed on a fence post. This is the easy way. There are only a few exceptions where you can see Common Snipes in flight in the internet. Bird-lens is proud to show this bird in flight and even in display flight during courtship.
The male Common Snipe performs a drumming display during courtship, circling high then diving, producing a distinctive sound as the air flows over specially modified tail feathers. These tail feathers you can see very good on that image.
Very interesting is, that recently high-speed video has revealed how male Common Snipes generate their distinctive drumming display flight. The exciting thing was that the video revealed that the tail feather actually flaps backwards and forwards, like a flag blowing in the wind. This was examined by Dr Roland Ennos, from the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences.
During courtship flights, the male climbs to an altitude of approx. 50 m before diving with the outer tail feathers extended. The researchers found that when the birds reached a speed of 50 kph the outer feathers produced an audible sound. The feathers continued to produce the sound until the bird reached speeds of more than 86 kph.
Other successful shootings you can see under: http://www.bird-lens.com/photos-2/common-snipe-relatives/.
To see the fine differences to a sister taxon of Gallinago gallinago, Bird-Lens added 2 images of the Pintail Snipe, Gallinago stenura, too.