AS I MADE my way along the flood meadows of the River Devon between Tillicoultry and Dollar, I flushed a snipe from under my feet which took to the air.

In a flurry of wings, it zoomed away with such speed that in a matter of seconds it was no more than a speck in the sky.

I must admit I do like snipe, a most unusual wader with an impossibly long bill.

Snipe thrive in bogs where they can probe the soft ground with their long bills in search of worms and other invertebrates.

The haugh of the River Devon is a perfect place for them, with there being many marshy pools and patches of rushes for them to shelter and forage.

A snipe’s eyes are set well back on the head, providing good all-round vision and the elongated bill has a sensory tip, enabling it to feel for prey under the soil.

Another remarkable feature of the bill is that it can be opened only at the tip if so desired.

Thus, working like a pair of intricate forceps, the bird can catch and swallow invertebrates without even needing to withdraw the bill from the ground.

In spring the male has an amazing courtship flight. He flies high in the sky and sweeps round in fast circles, the air rushing through the stiff outer tail feathers creating a most peculiar noise.

The sound is often referred to as ‘drumming’, but this is fake news in modern day parlance, for it sounds nothing like a drum.

I have also heard it described as ‘winnowing’, which is more apt as it does indeed bear some resemblance to a bleating goat.

Most winters I will flush at least one jack snipe out from rushes on rough wet ground in Strathdevon.

A winter visitor to our shores, they are noticeably smaller than our common snipe and sit ever so tight.

But when I do stumble upon one, it will take to the air in a short explosive burst before quickly dropping down again.

This is in stark contrast to the common snipe which when disturbed will disappear into the far distance like a crazy rocket.