If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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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!

29 January, 2014

The curlew: beak almighty!

The curlew (Numenius arquata) is a common bird on the mud flats of Poole and Christchurch harbours although at high tide, when it cannot feed, it is forced up on to neighbouring rough pasture. Curlews can be seen on the coast of Dorset all year round but, as with so many other birds, the numbers are boosted in winter by birds arrivals from the colder north where food
may be short.

With its long, slightly down turned bill it would be easy to think that the curlew is unmistakable but it does pay to take a closer look, especially around migration times, in case you are looking at the similar, but slightly smaller, whimbrel.
To my mind, the best thing about the curlew is its wonderful 'burbling' call. It has a haunting quality about it and is evocative of the wild places it inhabits, moorland in summer and estuaries in winter.

The curlew is a very sedate wader which is in stark contrast to the apparent endless activity of some of its smaller cousins. The curlew is happy to casually stalk the mud flats looking for ragworm, lugworm and the small molluscs that live deep in the mud, hence its long probing bill.
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