The last few days have brought a huge influx of snipe and woodcock to Galloway, and the arrival has been so dramatic that it has even been noticeable in daylight hours. Putting out grit trays yesterday afternoon in the thick cloud on the syndicate ground, I was flushing snipe every few yards. Some of them were in groups of four and five, and all simply appeared to be roosting in the short heather where our burns are starting to show encouraging signs of regeneration. In the time it took me to walk six hundred yards and place a grit box every hundred, I must have flushed thirty snipe. Looking closely at where they had come from, I found clumps of shit like messy white pasta on the moss.
Getting home just on the darkening, I took the dog up the hill behind the house and saw perhaps a dozen more snipe on a mushy farm track where all the drains had burst. By the time I turned round for home, the woodcock had begun to flight out of the forestry and they came rushing overhead like teal as the stars came out. As a massive full moon spilled white chalky powder into the Solway, the age-old link between lunar cycles and wader migration rang true again.
Usually, the best indicator of snipe and woodcock arrival is by using the lamping torch across the wet fields at night time, but this year the birds have been so blatant that there is no mistaking them. With cold weather inbound, it will be interesting to see what their next move will be.