I believe that those who are addicted to the pursuit of snipe become at some point amateur ornithologists. Knowledge of snipe habits and habitat combined with history and literature are central to the sport, and as with other outdoor pursuits, are part of the core of being sportsmen.
With this in mind, “A History of English Birds, Vol. VI” by the Rev. Francis Orpen Morris presents itself as a cornerstone historical reference. This wonderful volume is the final in a series of six, which were published in London by George Bell & Sons during the years 1851-1857. The 7 year span to complete the first edition were a combined effort by Morris (writer), Fawcett (artist) and Lydon (principle engraver). The book contains prints of snipe and woodcock, as well as other species. Here is the common snipe from the book:
Meant as a complete survey of English fowl, Morris opens Vol. VI with a chapter on the woodcock, then follows immediately with chapters on each of the great, common, jack, Sabine’s and brown snipes. Morris was clearly enamored with the bird, and hints at his Victorian sportsman’s sensibilities that so wonderfully combined science and method with art and reflection:
“The Snipe, like the trout, is connected with my earliest
recollections. There is no bird which gives you more the
idea of a wild-fowl. You may look at a hundred, one after
another, and each will be regarded with fresh interest, and
as if in a new point of view. There is a ‘Je ne scai quoi’
in its whole appearance, which seems to associate you with
itself in a love for running brooks and quiet scenes.”
This small sample will hopefully both inspire those few who venture to my blog site to read Morris’ masterwork, and also help provide sustenance for the snipe shooter waiting out the “bleak” summer months before the next season arrives.
The book may be obtained in reprint form from Amazon.com, and original versions from Abebooks.com search. The full text is available on the Internet Archive, in multiple reading formats.
I would like to acknowledge the website of Rebecca Nason, who’s site I stumbled across during my ethereal wanderings. This encouraged me to seek out an original copy of the subject volume. Yet another excellent reference for us “armchair ornithologists”, her site is located at: http://birdingblogs.com/2010/rebeccanason/addicted-to-bird-art