The experience with the Snipe and indeed some of the utter tripe that has been spouted on the ‘net about it got me thinking…. How the birders are responsible for the death of the snipe due to its unfortunate encounter with a cat/predator is beyond me. As to it being moribund, I’ve seen moribund and this wasn’t it! The bird fed continually when we were there and also roosted on and off… indeed it was catching quite a bit in the ditch and ate several fat worms whilst we watched it.
Birds are not tame just because they are ill, I have had several memorable encounters with rare species that were fit and well. One that sticks in the mind was way back in the days of slide film and involved a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, this bird was feeding on the edge of a reservoir (Draycott I think?) and we were there on a dull day so the pic’s were very grainy. However the fun bit was that we were standing a good way away watching it and it began to get closer… and closer till a sudden and terrific rain storm hit us, now we were lucky we had a bright pink umbrella with us (don’t ask!) so we put it up sheltered under that, and to our suprise the BBS ran up to us and took shelter right with us! Amazing!
As you can see it was too close to fit it in the photo properly, and this was taken at a short distance away too as it approached us! At its closest I couldn’t focus down anywhere near it! When the rain stopped the bird moved away back down to the edge of the reservoir but remained very close all the time we were there.
Another memorable twitch was the Cocknage Nutcracker, now that bird was mad! We arrived and saw the bird well on the rear lawn of a house at about 30foot range and I burned off a load of film. Only to discover I had run out when the bird flew up to us and walked round and into the crowd of assembled birders then hopped up and landed on the end of a ‘scope next to me when I was at the eyepiece end, less than 2foot away! And I had no film left….. One little girl was snapping away at the bird next to her foot with a Kodak Instamatic!
I can think of quite a few more birds I have had brilliant encounters with like this…. not all rare either. I think some species really don’t learn fear of humans, they just never see us at all normally…. Little Stint at Flamborough South Landing once, under my tripod is another that comes to mind.