Common Snipes breed widely in arctic and temperate regions across the northern half of Eurasia. Some 1-3% of the European population breed in Britain. In winter their numbers are swollen by birds moving south from the more northerly breeding areas, most of which winter in western Europe, the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, southern Asia or sub-Saharan Africa.
    In Wiltshire in the 19th century they were regarded as mainly winter visitors with declining numbers staying to breed as wetland areas were increasingly drained. However this trend was reversed in the first decades of the 20th century so that by the inter-war period they were being described as “a fairly common resident” with numbers increasing. After reaching a peak in 1941 they again began to decline as more wetlands were brought into productive agricultural use. The 1968-72 Breeding Atlas recorded them present in 16 of Wiltshire’s 33 core 10km squares, with proved breeding in six. The 1988-91 Breeding Atlas had them in 12 squares with breeding in seven. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 13 squares (21 tetrads in all) but breeding was confirmed at only two sites. WTA2 recorded them present in 17 core squares (43 tetrads in all) but with no confirmed records of breeding (though there were three records of probable breeding). There have been no records of breeding recorded in Hobby since the fieldwork for WTA2 was completed.
    Though the species has now virtually ceased nesting in the county it remains an increasingly widespread winter visitor. The 1981-84 Winter Atlas recorded them in every 10km square. The partial winter tetrad survey for Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in 5% of the tetrads surveyed, equivalent to about 45 tetrads overall. WTA2 has them in 192 tetrads, 21% of the total.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.