It’s always a significant date when the snipe start sounding off on the Chayne each year. It’s usually towards the end of the last week in February when the birds start their sing-song chacking just on the last spark of daylight. Within a week or ten days, the first cocks are gamely drumming over the remains of the snow and the game is afoot.
Coming off the hill on Friday night (after indulgently squandering the entire afternoon watching a couple of short eared owls), I had a moment to stop the jeep and wind the windows down as I came down over the bog. Out in the roaring wind, there were snatches of chacking and a single throbbing phrase of a drumming bird somewhere overhead. It was a bleak night to be displaying, but the little birds seem to have started early this year. I wondered if I could hear a blackcock bubbling somewhere by the forest, but the snarl of the gale in the rushes could have been a million other things.