A flooded area in the middle of the slightly hilly, agricultural area of the Niederer (Lower) Fläming. As soon as I arrive at the wetland at dawn, Common Snipes (Gallinago gallinago) start flying. The area was heavily flooded during thunderstorms and rain in the wet summer. Now the highest water levels have already receded, revealing muddy meadow areas that have the loose vegetation that is important for the Common Snipe. In the morning the Common Snipe seemed to prefer the very shallow flooded areas and areas with bare ground right next to them. There the beak was constantly going into the mold. They were obviously able to eat their fill. I would like to take this in the evening from the camouflage tent with the right light, the sun behind me.
I’ll be there around 5:30 p.m. From now on there are still 2.5 hours until it gets dark. I expect most of acitivty to happen just before dark. Maybe the remaining light is enough for a few photos. The mosquitoes dance in myriads. My camouflage tent, a Stealth Gear 2-person camouflage tent Extreme Professional Wildlife Square Hide, is quickly pitched. I use the Cullmann Titan Professional CT200 tripod as a base and attach the ProMediaGear GKJR Katana Pro Aluminum Gimbal Head “upside down” to the center column. This means I can use the advantages of a tripod, I don’t have to shoulder the weight of the suit myself and when I sit on the ground I still have a surprisingly low perspective. This is where the foldable display of the Canon EOS R 5 shows its advantages. In the past you would have had to use an angle finder.
After I set up, it takes about half an hour until the first Common Snipe flies in fluttering and then stands quietly in the water between willow branches, relying on the camouflage of its plumage. Unfortunately in the furthest area of the flooded plain. Oops, so they are careful after all. After a while the bird starts to look for food, but doesn’t leave the back area. Most of the time it stays well hidden. With the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on a Canon EOS R 5 I can shoot a few photos before disappearing back into cover. The Common Snipe now seems even more cautious. If the Common Snipe is in motion, taking photos is not that easy, despite the folding display of the Canon EOS R 5 and the excellent eye-search of the AF. Initially, I set the autofocus of the Canon EOS R 5 to center-weighted AF. Then I switch to manual focus and can use the red colored focus area to see whether the Common Snipe will also be in the focus area when the Snipe lifts its head again. I also use the magnifying glass with 6x magnification successfully so that I can assess the focus setting before I release the shutter. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to catch the bird.
Much, much later, the next Common Snipe comes flying in, which is promptly attacked by the bird, which sees itself as the territory owner. The sun sets. It’s still warm, even humid warm. Now the mosquitoes are no longer just dancing, they are starting to become really annoying in their attempts to get a blood meal. It’s getting dark. Suddenly a third Common Snipe comes flying in. She is attacked really hard by the first Common Snipe.
Suddenly, I hear a light splashing sound right in front of me. Very, very inconspicuously, a Common Snipe pursues looking for food right in front of my tent. It’s less than 4 meters and that puts me close to the minimum setting limit of the Canon lens EF 400mm f/2.8 IS II USM. The poor light challenges the noise processing of the Canon EOS R 5. Initially with 1/125 sec, I quickly have to go to 1/30 sec and even higher. The Common Snipe only saves once and can then be photographed sharply with the Canon EOS R 5 with a reasonably acceptable exposure time. Eventually the Common Snipe in front of the tent is also attacked violently by the first Common Snipe. Now this initially cautious Common Snipe also seems to have lost its shyness. A competitor for food is even more annoying than an unknown object (the camouflage tent) right in front of the beak.
At around 8 p.m. I have to leave. The darkness doesn’t allow any further photographs and the mosquitoes are now becoming extremely intrusive. Even dismantling the tent is torture.
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