Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Gallinago gallinago - Common Snipe

Range & Status

Holarctic; in Britain and Ireland 59,000 breeding pairs (chiefly in the north), but has declined by about 20% since 1972. Up to 100,000 have been estimated in winter, but in 1983 a staggering figure of 85,000 shot in Britain each year was made; this indicates a huge wintering population.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: until quite recently Common Snipe bred quite widely on bogs on Bodmin Moor (50-70 pairs in 1984, 14% of population of south-west England); it has undergone a drastic decrease since, with only two drumming birds in 1992 and none in 1993. Formerly bred elsewhere in Cornwall, including Goss Moor and West Penwith Moors, but the only other recent breeding record away from Bodmin Moor was from Tamar Lake in 1989. Large numbers arrive in autumn to winter, but are scattered across Cornwall making assessment difficult; perhaps 1000 winter in Cornwall, being considerably increased during cold spells. Only Maer Lake warrants recognition as Nationally Important, attracting peaks of 500-700 in recent winters. Isles of Scilly: winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers.

Habitat & Ecology

Breeds on moorland bogs. Winters scattered over farmland, marshes and estuarine saltings.


Loss of moorland bogs through creation of reservoirs has decimated Bodmin Moor breeding population. Common Snipe remains a popular quarry species with ' sportsmen' .


The main estuary sites and parts of Bodmin Moor are SSSI. Maer Lake is now a joint Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society reserve. Management of the Amble Marshes reserve by Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society should provide an important winter site. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.