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27 Feb

Snipes on the move

For the first time ever, we are watching the journey of the jet-setting Latham’s Snipe from Australia to Japan.


After a successful field project, capturing three Latham’s Snipe and fitting them with satellite trackers at Jerrabomberra Wetlands, we are now able to follow the movements of this unusual bird while in Australia, and on their overseas journey.


The high tech trackers on our two beloved Latham’s Snipe, Tsubasa and Nozomi, are uncovering mysterious behaviours. While in Canberra, it appears that both of these caramel, long-nosed critters have not just been using Jerrabomberra Wetlands.


Lori Gould, Project Manager at the Wetlands explains:

“They seem to like the sewage farm and the little channels at Canturf too. This makes sense because the paleochannels are drying up and / or becoming too overgrown”.



Recently, Nozomi Snipe picked up her mottled wings and set sail Northward. Researcher, Birgita Hansen recounts:

After a challenging start we are thrilled to learn that P9 Tsubasa has begun its journey. Tsubasa left Canberra on 14th February (clearly no valentines worth hanging around for in Canberra!), probably sometime during the early hours of the morning prior to dawn. The next satellite fixes late afternoon on Feb 15 showed that Tsubasa had stopped somewhere in central NSW west of Yeoval and east of Goobang National Park. There’s not much in that region except scattered farm dams and small, degraded watercourses, so Tsubasa was on its way again and was picked up by the satellites in Gwydir wetlands (northern NSW) on the February 17. 

Meanwhile, Nozomi (R0) is still hanging around Jerrabomberra wetlands but her satellite fixes are becomingly increasingly unreliable so we hope that means she is readying herself for departure. Unfortunately some issues with P8 meant that we had to recapture her and remove her harness, so now we are relying on Nozomi and Tsubasa to fly the flag for Canberra snipe. Let’s wish them good luck!


As migratory shorebirds face challenges of habitat loss, this groundbreaking collaborative research will help Japan and Australia conserve the charismatic species into the future by gaining insights into land use.




For a visual insight into the capturing process at Jerrabomberra Wetlands, undertaken by an international and cross-generational team, see the photo essay below.


The team that got out there in the swamp and caught the beautiful birds was lead by Birgita Hansen from University of Ballarat, and made up of passionate snipe lovers, that include the Wild Bird Society of Japan, ACT Young Rangers, Canberra Ornigthologist Group members, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, Community members and ACT Rangers.

Thanks to the ACT Government and Woodlands and Wetlands Trust for the financial support in obtaining satellite trackers.


For more on the methods of catching a Latham’s Snipe see the post First Latham’s Snipes caught at Jerrabomberra Wetlands.