Monday, 10 August 2015

Day 273 - Wondeful Whimbrels

A Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) at RSPB Titchwell
Here you can see its size next to the Lapwing and gulls
Hey everyone today's Day 274 and as you know I have been on holiday the last week. I got photographs of about 35 species that I haven't covered and that is quite a lot since I struggle to find one or two sometimes now locally. I focused on the Ringed Plover yesterday, I also saw a Little Ringed Plover there. But that is not today's post but look forward to that in the future. Today's bird, though, is one that I had never heard of until now, the Whimbrel! A lovely name! I was glad that there were other birders there as I wasn't sure if it was a Whimbrel or a Curlew but other people there agreed it was a Whimbrel!

I had great weather for most of last week but while I was watching this bird it went a bit grey and it was quite far away from the hide I was in (the Parinder Hide if you know Titchwell) but managed to get a couple of ok shots.

From the Collin's Bird Guide that I have it doesn't look like the Whimbrel is actually found in the UK. We shall see if this is true in the facts, here they are:

  • Well, they are not very common but they are sometimes found here. They only breed in the Far North - East of Scotland as well as well as the Shetlands and Orkneys.
  • They do pass through all of the UK's Coast, apart from most of the East side, in April to May and also in Late-Summer to Winter. 

  • They are a Red Status because there has been a recent breeding population decline. It seems to be quite recent as well as in 2007 they were an Amber Status.
  • A bit more on population, there are about 30 wintering birds, 500 pairs of breeding birds and 3000 passage.
  • They have a few interesting local names which are 'May Bird', 'Tang Whaup(?)' and the mnost interesting is 'Seven Whistler'.
  • This name comes from the number of whistles in their call (see below) which also has an interesting story...
  • ...People believed that the reason they whistle 7 times is because there are 6 birds looking for a seventh. This connects quite well with their melancholy. Click here for their call from
  • They look incredibly like the Curlew. The only way I see to identify them is by looking at their bill. The Curlew's is curved all over whereas the Whimbrel's is straight with a curve at the end.
This is a BTO video with more ways to identify them.

  • They have an 81cm wingspan and a length of 41cm and both Males and Females weigh around 430g.
  • As I have done for a while now, I have said the ring size. In this case, because of their huge legs, it's E, one of the larger sizes.
  • They first breed at a quite old 2 years but they do live on for, again, a quite old 11 years. The oldest, though, lived for 24 years 1 month and 25 days.
  • They usually eat slugs, worms and insects on Passage but when they breed they usually eat crustaceans, their beak is a nice shape to fit into the burrow of a Fiddler Crab.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love that shot with the Lapwings and the Seagulls in the background - lovely! - Tasha