Chatham Island Snipe
These little birds sum up the word ‘charming’ for me. Whilst filming for a documentary we were commissioned to make earlier this year I had the very good fortune to spend a few days and nights on the remote and precious Mangere Island, a small island off the east coast of Pitt Island, which itself is rather small and to the south of the Chatham Archipelago. These islands, free of the introduced predators that have decimated the fauna and flora of the New Zealand mainland are gems to be cherished. Most folk with the good luck to access these islands are most interested in the black robins and it’s easy to understand why. During the 1970s and 80s black robins were recovered from the brink of extinction, indeed, they were down to one female, known to conservation biologists as ‘Old Blue’ thanks to her colour band. I too was delighted to finally see the descendants of the fabled Old Blue but the unexpected joy for me were the snipe.
I think it was their shyness and the delicate way that they picked through the leaf litter in search of invertebrates that captured me. There is always something magical about watching shy and reclusive animals go about their business and I had the good fortune (after a fair bit of effort it should be said) to enjoy such viewing.
This was also the first proper test of the Black Magic Cinema Camera as a field unit for wildlife camerawork and as far as I’m concerned, I think it did a damn good job. The snipe is a tiny element in the finished film on the Chatham Islands but I think it deserves it’s own slot so here is a little sequence re-edited just for the snipe. There are a few other rare and endemic species thrown in just for the real bird nerds out there, enjoy: