Latham’s Snipe is a medium sized wader, and the largest snipe in Australia, with a length of 29-33 cm, a wingspan of 50-54 cm and a mass of 150-230 g. It has a long straight bill, rather short broad pointed wings, a long tail and short legs. The cryptic plumage is intricately marked with barring and chevrons of buff, black and various shades of brown, with blackish-brown stripes across the crown and cream streaks down the back. The belly and parts of the head are white, and the tail is rufous with a white tip. The eyes are large and blackish-brown in colour. The colour of the bill varies from pale-brown to olive, becoming blackish at the distal third and olive-yellow at the base. The legs and feet are olive-grey to olive in colour. The sexes are similar in appearance, and there is no seasonal variation in the plumage. Juveniles in fresh plumage differ only slightly from adults, but can be distinguished by slight differences in the patterning on the upperwing. Adults and juveniles are indistinguishable after early November. In non-breeding areas, snipe that are flushed from cover flee with a distinctive and rapid ‘zig-zagging’ flight. Latham’s Snipe usually occurs singly or in small, loose groups of less than a dozen birds. It is occasionally observed in larger groups of several dozen birds or more, e.g. migrating flocks may contain up to 200 birds when they arrive in Australia.
Latham's Snipe, Japanese Snipe |
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Species Profile and Threats Database, Gallinago hardwickii
Because the entire population migrates; global threats are likely to affect the number of Latham’s Snipe arriving in Australia.
In addition to overseas and local threats; global warming represents a potential threat that could threaten the species throughout its range in the future (Melville 1997).