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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

27 November, 2010

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

In amongst all the Curlew around this time of year its worth looking out for its close 'look-a-like', the Whimbrel. Primarily seen on passage during migration time they can turn up any time during the winter depending on the weather elsewhere.

Poole Harbour is a favoured place for these birds, along with Christchurch Harbour and the Fleet.

The problem with Whimbrel is that they can be really difficult to tell from a Curlew and 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.