Long-billed Dowitcher - Grote Grijze Snip

Long-billed Dowitcher

Grote Grijze Snip

Limnodromus scolopaceus

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk & Max Berlijn


7 May 1994, Philipsdam Ze

21 April 2001, Prunjepolder Ze

December 2003 - January 2004, Veerse Meer Ze


7 May 1994, Philipsdam Ze

A surprising find was a Long-billed Dowitcher displaying. It obviously was very much impressed by a female Redshank Tringa totanus, for it did several (apparently succesful) attempts to mate with it. During display, it gave a distinct trilling call.


21 April 2001, Prunjepolder Ze

Long-billed Dowitchers are rare in The Netherlands: approximately 20 records have now been documented. They usually turn up in April or early May, sometimes returning to the very same pond for several consecutive years. It is assumed that these are birds that, once lost in W-Europe, continue following their migration instincts. This may lead them to Scandinavia in summer, and somewhere in Africa during the winter period. Their origin remains unknown but their closest breeding grounds in NC-Siberia seem to be the most logical in this respect.
This bird stayed in an inundated meadow reserve in Zeeland for several weeks, thus allowing the study of the pre-breeding body feather moult from winter to summer plumage. It can even then be tricky to identify, since the resemblance with Short-billed Dowitcher L. griseus can be striking. However, the rather plain brick-red underparts already point towards Long-billed and soon all of these will probably be more or less uniformly coloured (as shown in some of the pictures, the ventral region is here still white).
Note also the contrasting head pattern and the rather plump body.
Light conditions were unfavourable when I filmed this bird, making the quality of these stills rather poor.

Long-billed Dowitcher  -  Grote Grijze Snip  Limnodromus scolopaceus   moulting into summer plumage;  videograbs (320x), contrast enhanced.
Prunjepolder Ze, The Netherlands, 21 April 2001.


30 December 2003, Veerse Meer Ze

Only few winter records are known in The Netherlands, probably because the birds are not detected due to their drab winter plumage. The bird shown here might be a first-winter, as the scapulars show dark centres, and the tertials seemed to be rather buff-fringed.
This bird called on several occasions, making the distinction from Short-billed Dowitcher L. griseus easy: Long-billed utters a modest keek, while Short-billed has a somewhat Turnstone-like tu-tu-tu.

   Long-billed Dowitcher  -  Grote Grijze Snip  Limnodromus scolopaceus  first-winter,  videograbs (approx. 250x).
   Veerse Meer, near Oud-Sabbinge Ze, The Netherlands, 30 December 2003.

As so often seems to be the case, conditions for photographing were much better after I had left. In this case, it took a few days as New Year's morning everything was covered in snow. It was Max Berlijn who managed to make some good digiscoping pictures, and here are some results:

Long-billed Dowitcher  -  Grote Grijze Snip  Limnodromus scolopaceus  first-winter,
digital pictures (approx. 90x).
Veerse Meer, near Oud-Sabbinge Ze, The Netherlands, 2 January 2004. (Max Berlijn)

The bird proved to be a long-stayer, for nearly a month later, I was yet again able to make some pictures. Unfortunately, it soon left the foraging site where it was allowing close approach.

   Long-billed Dowitcher  -  Grote Grijze Snip  Limnodromus scolopaceus  first-winter, digital pictures (approx. 20x).
   Veerse Meer, near Oud-Sabbinge Ze, The Netherlands, 30 January 2004.


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2001-2004