Monday, 14 October 2019

Little Curlews, Exmouth, WA

Photo: adult little curlew.

In 1985 I was on a long weekend birding in Norfolk with my dad when a little whimbrel was found at Blakeney. It was the second for Britain or possibly the first if it was a returning bird, and I don't think that there have been any since. Now approaching 35 years since the last UK record, it's about as close as it gets to a blocker on my UK list following the fall of Hudsonian Godwit a year or two ago. I'm pretty sure at the time it was considered an endangered species like so many of it's curlew / whimbrel cousins. These days the name has changed to little curlew and I don't think it is quite as endangered as we thought back then but still a very difficult bird to connect with anywhere.

I never thought that I would ever see another little whimbrel, yet on the same day that I encountered my first flock of budgies flying over Exmouth sewage works I also came across eight little curlews with banded lapwings on a nearby playing field.

I was absolutely delighted to find these birds which were probably the birds of the holiday. Apparently they're not particularly rare in Australia during the southern hemisphere summer, but they do generally only occur in the north of the country and even then not really in the north east which is where most visiting birders will go, and only visitors to Darwin or Broome are likely to see them. Away from Australia they breed in eastern Siberia and I guess can be seen on passage in eastern China or Taiwan, but none of these places are particularly easy to visit and as such it's a really tough bird to connect with. They are the nearest thing we have these days to the extinct Eskimo curlew. The bird on the right in the photo above is really well marked, very whimbrel like.

Call them little curlews if you like, but to me they still look more like whimbrels!

With banded lapwing and a crested pigeon. I was amazed at how small the little curlews looked, I mean I know that they're called little but these birds were really little, not much bigger than say a greenshank.

Unlike it's larger cousin the whimbrel, little curlew does not have a white rump.

Cracking birds! I did also find a ninth bird (not photographed), near the sewage works at Carnarvon about 350km south of Exmouth on our way to Monkey Mia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts