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Great snipes

Imagine you’re sitting in a small, low hide, with your knees up to your neck. You’re on a flooded bog that’s sinking deeper into the water every hour and sunset kicks in. You’re alone in an open river valley, far away from civilisation. All alone, except for some elks and roe deer splashing around in the marshes and a background choir of stunning bird species: great snipes, river warblers, corncrakes, whinchats, rosefinches, woodcocks and wood-warblers …

Twilight in paradise

The vegetation in this place would drive any botanist crazy. It’s what every bog should look like: with all the key species present in abundance. Wild nature, looking exactly the way it did thousands of years ago.

The twilight colours appear in the sky and a bird starts to make a strange noise, hidden between the sedges and rushes. Then more birds start to make this noise, like the clicks of table-tennis balls falling. By now, the noise is completely surrounding your hide. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

That’s what I was doing last week in the most eastern part of Poland: photographing the display of the great snipe at the lek. What an amazing experience! Even though this bird isn’t known to look very ‘sexy’, make no mistake. They are great migrating birds, who winter in Africa and fly great distances at a dazzling speed. They’re hard to see and have an amazing memory, coming back to the same spot in their lek every year.

Great snipe, awesome bird

It took me a lot of commitment and patience to make these pictures. I drove the almost 2000 km single way on my own and spent hours in the hides. And still, I want to spend more time with the snipes. I enjoyed every evening with them. Being in such a wonderful wild place all alone, watching the display of this wondrous bird really makes me shiver. So expect more pictures of them to come!


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