For more years than I care to remember, the Painted Snipe was my number one ‘bogey bird’ – no matter where I travelled, I never happened upon one of these unusual wetland dwellers. True, it is a shy skulker, but if you are patient and look in the right places (swamps, in this case) you do expect to eventually bump into such quarry. For those in the know, I dubbed this elusive beast the ‘Plascon Bird’.
But then, one splendid afternoon in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, I encountered a pair of these fabulous fowl feeding in a roadside rain puddle. No skulking was observed, they strode about calmly, almost within arms reach. Two weeks later, I was back in South Africa and travelled through the Kruger Park from Nelspruit to Ngala. And, would you believe it – I had three separate sightings, each individual at a puddle in an otherwise dry riverbed!
Never seen any since. Funny thing, birdwatching.
Interestingly, the female Painted Snipe is more brightly coloured than the male and she plays no part in the incubation or care of the young.