Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

April in Dorset is key spring migration time and a time for looking out for passage migrants, birds flying north to breed having wintered further south.

Poole Harbour is a favoured stop off point for many of these birds, along with Christchurch Harbour and the Fleet, and some species are seen regularly at this time of year, the Whimbrel being one of them.

The problem with Whimbrel is that they can be difficult to tell from a Curlew sometimes it helps to see both together. I wonder how many of us have dismissed a Whimbrel as 'just another Curlew'?

The key really is the bill; long and down turned like a Curlew, but no where near as long. It also seems to bend at a point two-thirds down whereas the Curlew's bill is a more gentle curve.

The Whimbrel is also a less bulky bird, more compact perhaps? The markings on the head differ but unless you have a really good view that can be difficult to tell from a distance.

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