Have you seen an Australian Painted Snipe recently?

Monday, 20 March 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2 min

Have you seen an Australian Painted Snipe recently?

On the lookout for an elusive wetland species

Have you seen an Australian Painted Snipe recently? If you have, please let us know, as any information we can gather about this enigmatic species will add to our knowledge and help us ensure its survival.

Although the species has been recorded at many scattered wetlands across the Australian mainland, the Australian Painted Snipe is one of our most poorly understood birds. Its cryptic nature and its sporadic occurrence at wetlands across a vast area make it a particularly difficult bird to study. And without even baseline information about its basic ecological needs, providing effective conservation measures for this endangered species is problematic.

We know that Australian Painted Snipe favour the margins of wetlands where the water is receding, revealing muddy margins with scattered wetland vegetation. Given that the past few years have been subject to wetter, La Niña conditions, ephemeral wetlands in many regions have been filled for some time. This pulse in resources will have encouraged Painted Snipe to breed and spread out across the regions.

But now as the weather — at least, in many parts of the continent — has started to dry out a little, the water levels in these wetlands have also begun to recede, resulting in the muddy margins that Painted Snipe seem to favour so much.

This means that now is the perfect time to head out and look for this elusive species — there’s never been a better opportunity!

Indeed, now that the landscape is beginning to dry out, we’re starting to see a few records coming in, with several small flocks seen across the Murray–Darling Basin in NSW, as well as the first Victorian record in five years!

Australian Painted Snipe could turn up at any wetland, from a remote canegrass swamp in the inland to a suburban duck pond, so keep your eyes peeled for this remarkable bird, and let us know if you see one!

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And while you’re looking for Australian Painted Snipe, why not also look out for Australasian Bitterns as well?