An excellent January evening spent with our fantastic local conservation organisation, Birds of Poole Harbour (BOPH). They are doing sterling work in raising the profile of bird conservation, observation and education in the harbour.

This cold winter’s night was spent ringing Snipe and Woodcock. With the condition of each bird carefully recorded it provides scientific evidence for conservation & management, and thereby increases our understanding of these species.

The birds were delicately and professionally handled throughout as you would both hope and expect. It provided a great opportunity to get up close and observe these fascinating birds (all with fab beaks!). No flash of course, all lit with head torches.

Common Snipe. Poole Harbour, England. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.
Woodcock. Poole Harbour, England. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

Photographs above, from the top:

  • Jack Snipe (header image)
  • Common Snipe
  • Woodcock

The ringing took place out in Sunnyside in the south west of the harbour. A small, wetland site. BOPH has carried out recent restoration work there, restoring scrapes and creating new habitat.

It’s a great winter feeding site for Common & Jack Snipe and Woodcock among others. As a result 12 Jack Snipe, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Woodcock were ringed (3 from previous years).

River Frome, Poole Harbour, England. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

A special moment – three Jack Snipe soon to be released having been inspected, measured, weighed and ringed.

Jack Snipe. Poole Harbour, England. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

I used a Canon 5dii for this (my no.2 camera). With the intense cold I didn’t want to risk the newer 5div. I had to push the ISO right up to the max (6400) in the darkness for some shots. This gave some unattractive noise in the blacks which was overcome in Photoshop with a Selective Colour layer.

I just stuck with one lens for minimum fuss what with the conditions. An 85mm f1.8 prime – simple & inexpensive. Again I didn’t want to risk the L series in the cold and dark (they are too valuable to me). These birds are small, and not wanting to get overly close, the 85mm felt like a good choice.

The birds were lit by the head torches everyone was wearing (except for me). I find this type of lighting and approach always very exciting – taking it as it comes and seeing what opportunities present themselves. (Remember, if I had worn a head torch the lighting would have been flat).

Jack Snipe. Poole Harbour, England. Photographer Simon Tomkinson.

Birds of Poole Harbour are an amazing charity doing great work down here on the south coast of England.

With their flagship Osprey re-introduction (translocation) project its exciting times in the harbour.


With thanks to Birds of Poole Harbour.

Location:  Poole Harbour, England.


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