Monday, 5 January 2015

Day 65 - On the Twelfth Day of Nature

On the Twelfth Day of Nature my true love sent to me, twelve Snipe a-drumming, eleven Piping Plovers, ten Toads a-leaping, nine Damsels Dancing, eight Maids a-milking , seven Swans a-swimming, six Geese a-laying, five Goldeneyes, four Calling Birds, three brown Chickens, two Collared Doves and a Partridge on a Board Walk.

Snipe (Gallinago gallinagoon a fence post
Thanks to North York Moors National park
Well, it's a bit sad today as the Christmas decorations have gone, it's the last day of my holidays and it's the 12th day of Christmas, or in my case 12th day of nature. Instead of twelve drummers drumming I've gone for Snipe a drumming. I see these birds quite often on the Moors but haven't managed to get a good photo, so thanks to the North York Moors National Park for letting me use theirs.

 In case you didn't know Snipe are said to drum when they make dives as part of their courtship displays, you can hear this pretty well in the video below. How do they do this? Well, I'll try and explain in the facts that follow!

So some facts about snipe:
  • They are an amber status birds as they have suffered a moderate decline in the last 25 years.
  • There are 80,000 breeding pairs in the UK, over winter they are joined by migrants and numbers rise to 1.1m. 
  • They are widespread in the UK but are concentrated in northern uplands, like the North York Moors. 
  • They measure around 23-28cm long with a wingspan of 39-45cm
  • A Snipe uses its long beak, which has a flexible tip, to search the ground for food. Its diet is mainly worms, beetles, snails and insect larvae.
  • To attract a mate a male Snipe performs a courtship display which is made up of dives which cause its tail feathers to vibrate and create its well known drumming as you can hear in the video / sound clip above.
  • The BBC article below explains in more detail but the drumming is caused by the tail feathers flapping like a flag. It's an impressive sound!
  • They are quite shy so in winter you may have to wait a while by wetland edges to see them, however in the breeding season head to the moors early in the morning to see the males displaying.

And of course if you want to find out more information about these birds, try these sites:

Hope you've enjoyed my 12 days of Nature. I'd love to hear your comments and what you thought and if you have any suggestions for new projects. Over the Christmas holidays though I have gathered lots of pictures for blogs on different species I have seen but I did enjoy the 12 days theme.



  1. Really enjoyed your 12 days Zach. A great idea for a theme will done 👍

    1. Thanks Viv, so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

  2. An imaginative 12 days worth. Really enjoyable and fascinating.

    1. Thanks Roy, glad you liked it and thanks for the feedback :-)