Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

Photo courtesy of Jo Goudie.
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

The first Whimbrel to be recorded in Argyll this year was at Loch à Phuill on Islay by John Bowler on 10th April. Another bird was found at Loch na Cille, Keills near Tayvallich on the same day by John Aitchison. There appears to have been a good movement of Whimbrel along the west coast this year with several records coming in during April and early May. We even had a good flock of at least ten here at Blackmill Bay, Luing on 2nd May found by Sue and John Blackwell.

It is a passage migrant to other areas in spring and autumn on its way from and to its wintering areas in Africa. There is also a breeding population in Shetland and Orkney which has been slowly increasing. The Whimbrel is a streaky, greyish-brown wader, with long, blue-grey legs and a long, downcurved, grey bill. It can be distinguished from the larger Curlew by its shorter bill and strong head pattern: a dark crown, a pale stripe down the middle, and a dark eyestripe. In flight, it shows a white ‘V’ shape up its back from its tail.

The Whimbrel breed on the moorlands and uplands of North Scotland. and it can often be seen at coastal habitats as it passes through on migration. On its breeding grounds, it feeds on ground insects, snails and slugs, swapping these tasty morsels for crustaceans, shrimps and molluscs when migrating. It is a Schedule 1 species of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Its eerie call is a series of seven whistles; listen out for it around the coast as its passes through on migration.

Click on the link below to hear the call of the Whimbrel :-

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b0423fpl

Photo courtesy of Jo Goudie.