Latham's Snipe. Photo Jason Girvan | CC BY 3.0

Latham’s Snipe. Photo Jason Girvan | CC BY 3.0

 

Latham’s snipe

Gallinago hardwickii
Marine and Migratory: Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999


Latham’s snipe is a shy, well-camouflaged, wetland bird that breeds in Japan and on the East Asian coastline, before migrating to East Australia to feed during the Northern Hemisphere winter.

They forage and shelter in dense vegetation around wetlands, in sedges, grasses, lignum, reeds, rushes and creek edges. A major threat to Latham’s snipe is habitat loss caused by wetland drainage, modification and clearing for agriculture and development. As shy creatures, they are also known to be sensitive to intrusion into their habitat by grazing cattle.

Wetlands and bogs in Kosciuszko National Park are a sanctuary for migratory birds such as Latham’s snipe that are affected by habitat loss around the world. Feral horses moving into their remaining space not only directly disturb these shy birds, but also trample and graze their food sources and habitat.

Australia’s native vegetation did not evolve to cope with hooved animals, only soft-footed macropods such as kangaroos. Our native plants struggle to cope with or recover from the damage caused by feral ungulates. While feral horses remain, there is little opportunity for recovery of the Latham’s snipe or its habitat.

 

References

  • Del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal, eds. (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3, Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  • Naarding, J.A. (1983). Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) in Southern Australia. Wildlife Division Technical Report. 83/01. Tasmania: National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • Weston, M.A. (1998). Report of the Birds Australia/ AWSG preliminary Latham’s Snipe expedition to Japan: results and recommendations. Stilt. 32:47-49.
  • Weston, M.A. (1995b). Snipers band together in the suburbs. Geo. 17:18-19.