Just to warn you - the following images may be disturbing, but it tells a fascinating story.

Snipe have been showing well from the Purfleet hide recently.

Snipe are fascinating medium sized wading bird (about 23-28 cm long), which short legs and a long bill. They have a dark brown back which is delicately barred and streaked with paler brown, and four straw-coloured stripes. They use their long bill to probe down into the earth small invertebrates, including worms and insect larvae.

They are very secretive and are easily camoflaged in the vegetation.

Snipe hidden in the vegetation by Bernard Bradshaw Snipe hidden in the vegetation by Bernard Bradshaw

If they are disturbed they will fly with a zigzag flight, but often rely on their camoflage.

Snipe in flight by Toby O'Brien Snipe in flight by Toby O'Brien

They do not form the large groups like other wading birds do, but sometimes fly and feed in small loose flocks called 'wisps'.

Snipe flying together by Bernard Bradshaw Snipe flying together by Bernard Bradshaw

After last month's battle blog (which I warn you also has some disturbing images, but tells a story - can be found here if you would like to have a read) I have another for you, the following pictures could be distressing.

Bernard Bradshaw and other visitors were in the Purfleet hide on Monday 10 December and witnessed some unusual bird behaviour - a carrion crow catching and eating a snipe!

The all-black carrion crow  and is one of the cleverest, most adaptable of our birds. It is often quite fearless, although it can be wary of man.  They are about 45-47 cm long, and usually eat carrion, insects, worms, seeds, fruit, eggs and any scraps.

While watching the snipe Bernard saw a crow circling, it swooped down and landed on one of the snipe!

Crow standing on a snipe by Bernard Bradshaw Crow standing on a snipe by Bernard Bradshaw

The crow held the snipe under the water, presumably until the snipe drowned.

The crow then lifted it out to the water and proceeded to pull out the feathers, dissected it and moved portions to various places around the Purfleet hide scrape covering them with grass and twigs.

The crow bringing the snipe onto land by Bernard Bradshaw The crow bringing the snipe onto land by Bernard Bradshaw

Crow with a snipe by Bernard Bradshaw Crow with a snipe by Bernard Bradshaw

The crow pulled away the feathers, picture by Bernard Bradshaw The crow pulled away the feathers, picture by Bernard Bradshaw

The crow then pulled off small pieces to hide, picture by Bernard Bradshaw The crow then pulled off small pieces to hide, picture by Bernard Bradshaw

This crow moved sections and hide them around the Purfleet scrape, picture by Bernard Bradshaw This crow moved sections and hide them around the Purfleet scrape, picture by Bernard Bradshaw

Fascinating behavior - thank you Bernard for capturing these images.


This  crow was  caching food. Many animals cache food, with some going to greater effort than others. Some birds bury food, or hide bits among vegetation. 

Kirsi Peck (RSPB Support Advisor) tell us this about crows cahcing food (from The RSPB: Ask an Expert):
"A crow is far more methodical about caching food. It too has a favourite general area where it stores food, but instead of simply burying the food item, it will place a leaf, twig, bit of grass or some other item it is likely to remember on top of the food as a marker. If you watch the bird carefully as it is covering the food item, you will see that it tilts its head sideways, so that it can look at the marker on the hiding place with one eye and the surroundings with the other. In effect, it is creating a mental image of where it hid the piece of food so that it has a better chance of finding it at a later time when it wants to eat it.

"Caching can be either temporary storage or to build up a food store for the winter."

Anonymous