Wilson’s Snipe playing Peek-A-Boo

Wilson's Snipe, Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Wilson’s Snipe, Merced National Wildlife Refuge

This Wilson’s Snipe seems to be playing Peek-A-Boo with me. Wilson’s Snipes can be notoriously hard to see in the field; the coloration and patterns on their feathers cause them to disappear into the foliage they wander through along the edge of bodies of water and it can be extremely difficult to see them when they’re standing still.

Because of that, I love trying to locate them when I’m out exploring the refuges in winter. It’s a fun test of skill, one I lose a lot more than I win — I think. Can’t be sure, because I only know when I find them…

My favorite “how hard is it to see them?” story about Wilson’s Snipe: I was on the auto tour route at Merced NWR one day when I saw a Snipe sleeping at the water’s edge in one of the flooded ponds. I got in position and took pictures, and congratulated myself on a job well done seeing the little bugger.

When I got home and put the images on the computer to process them, I realized there were three more of them in the frame with the one I photographed that I never saw at all while out in the field.

That is a wonderfully humbling moment.

Merced National Wildlife Refuge