English Name Great Snipe
Scientific Name Gallinago media
German Name Doppelschnepfe
Spanish Name Agachadiza Real
French Name Bécassine double
Great Snipe
Peters Family Name SCOLOPACIDAE(Scolopacinae):Woodcocks,Snipe Order 1539.0
Sibley Monroe Family Name SCOLOPACIDAE(Scolopacinae):Woodcocks,Snipes Order 3016.0
Gill Family Name SCOLOPACIDAE:Woodcocks,Snipes,Sandpipers,Phalaropes Order 1419.0
New 2013 Family Name SCOLOPACIDAE,Scolopacinae:Dowitchers,Snipes and Woodcocks Order 1559.0
English Synonyms
  • Double Snipe
$Capella macrodactyla Peters,1934,Checklist of Birds of the World,2,p.275.
Authority (Latham 1787)
Habitat br.lowland interior taiga and wooded tundra belt.near to bogs or marshes;winters marshes,short grass,tracks in wooded areas,plough furrows or old cultivation
Breeding Lays mid-May to early July.
Migratory, to much larger extent than other west Palearctic snipes. Winters mainly in Afrotropical region (especially eastern half), with a few (probably irregularly) in north-west Europe exceptionally even in southern Scandinavia. Only vagrant to Indian subcontinent and Arabian peninsula.
Main movements of Fenno-Scandian population probably south-north across central Europe; fewer birds than in 19th century now pass through western Europe (these largely autumn juveniles), presumably due to decline in north-west Europe; moreover, scarcity in West Africa (e.g. Sénégal) may be recent and due to same cause. Even in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) recent numbers below those implied by pre-1940 authors. African winter range extends from southern fringes of Sahara to Cape Province, though likely that majority cross equator. In Nigeria, most common August-November, especially September; in the most recent observations in Kenya (Kapsabet in Rift Valley), birds found only mid-October to mid-November and again on return passage in May; in Zambia, a migrant (October-January) in north, though a winter visitor (staying well into April) in south.
Broad-front overland movements across USSR and eastern Europe occur basically towards south-west, though Siberian birds probably migrate west and then south to avoid Asiatic highlands; hence scarcity in Iraq and Persian Gulf and absence further south or south-east. Not scarce on passage through eastern and central Europe, but now rare in western maritime countries. In British Isles, 45 identified 1958-79; these found August-October (26), November-February (12), and March-May (7), i.e. relatively high proportion (27%) in winter but negligible spring passage. Latter now applies to most of Europe west of line from northern Italy to southern Sweden; more widespread occurrence in autumn probably due to wandering juveniles, e.g. Netherlands.
Relatively few ringed, most in Oka reserve, Ryazan, USSR (54°45'N, 40°50'E). From there, August recoveries all within USSR, 2 relatively local (30-70 km), and 4 moved 350-800 km west to north-west (to Moscow, Kalinin, Smolensk, Belorussiya); singles found Nigeria in September, Congo Republic in December, and Zaïre in January; in late March to early April, returning migrants recovered Italy (5) and Rumania (1). Elsewhere, single Finnish birds found central Sweden in September, and northern Namibia in July of following year; a Swedish bird found Czechoslovakia in April; 1 from Norway found Jutland (Denmark) in October; and a September migrant ringed in Czechoslovakia found Italy in March. Known to summer occasionally in Africa, and July recovery in Namibia (above) presumably an instance of this. One ringed southern Sudan, November, found Kirov, USSR (51°E) in August .
Movements away from breeding areas discernible by early August; autumn passage through eastern and central Europe mainly August-September, though continuing into November, and protracted period perhaps due to slower exodus of juveniles. Main movement through Nigeria and Iraq (where scarce) also at peak in September, though limited recent observations in Kenya indicate southward movement there occurs October-November, continuing into January in Zambia . Bulk of spring passage rather late, with a good many still in Zambia in April, and return movement through Kenya in 2nd-3rd week May; south European recoveries late March to early April, and vanguard reaches USSR in April. Main movement evidently rapid since breeding grounds reoccupied during May and early June.
Thanks to BWP on CD-ROM.