Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Whimbrel, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image Unst, Shetland, Scotland
May 2004

The Whimbrel breeds in sub-arctic areas of northern Europe, including Iceland, and North America. It migrates, mainly to Africa, in August/September returning to its breeding grounds in April/May. Shetland-ringed birds have been recovered in Ghana.

Whimbrel, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image There are thought to be about 500 breeding pairs on Shetland which represents about 90% of the British breeding population. The other 10% breed in Orkney and the very north of Scotland.

It is very similar in looks to Curlew N. arquata but is about 30% smaller in size.

Whimbrel, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, May 2004 - click for larger image I find size very difficult to judge unless the two species are close so better identification points for me are its shorter bill, the pale central stripe in the dark crown and the pale supercilium.

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