• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Whimbrel? (1 Viewer)

Arbu

Well-known member
Big flock of waders (100 say) on mudflats at Cloghane, County Kerry, Ireland on 25th August 2008. They were rather distant, but the bills looked about right for Whimbrel. Surprised to see such a big flock though it that's what they were. Any thoughts? Attached photo is pretty poor.

Edit, sorry wrong forum. Grateful if someone can move it to the Bird Identification Q&A Forum.
 

Attachments

  • Whimbrel 1.jpg
    Whimbrel 1.jpg
    299.5 KB · Views: 235
Last edited:

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I've moved the thread into the Bird ID Forum for you.

It's a bit hard to be sure but I'd agree that they're Whimbrel from the shape. I suspect 100 probably isn't that unusual at favoured sites at peak season. I've seen those sorts of numbers in western Scotland.
 

Arbu

Well-known member
I've moved the thread into the Bird ID Forum for you.

It's a bit hard to be sure but I'd agree that they're Whimbrel from the shape. I suspect 100 probably isn't that unusual at favoured sites at peak season. I've seen those sorts of numbers in western Scotland.

Thanks, when I've seen whimbrel before in the east of England it's always been ones or twos. But I see that they do migrate over Ireland in big flocks, so I guess these ones were just stopping for the night while migrating from Iceland. The photo was taken at about 9pm and I didn't notice any whimbrel during the day.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
... But I see that they do migrate over Ireland in big flocks, so I guess these ones were just stopping for the night while migrating from Iceland. ....
Whimbrel do migrate over Ireland in big flocks - but only in spring. In the autumn, Icelandic Whimbrels (ALL of them!) fly non-stop :eek!: from Iceland direct to West Africa, well out over the Atlantic. So a large flock of waders in Ireland in August is unlikely to be Whimbrels.

Unfortunately, the resolution in your photo isn't good enough to tell what yours are with any certainty. There are at least 2 sizes of birds in your flock, perhaps 3; I'm wondering perhaps a mix of Curlew, Black- and/or Bar-tailed Godwits, and perhaps Grey Plover? Far from sure though!
 

AStevenson

Well-known member
Nutcracker,

Despite that link and the tagging work some big flocks of whimbrel do get recorded in the Outer Hebs in autumn and I suspect the same in Ireland - some of them do run into bad weather and have to pitch up but its much more infrequent than in spring, so yes it's possible they are all whimbrel.

cheers, Andrew
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Nutcracker,

Despite that link and the tagging work some big flocks of whimbrel do get recorded in the Outer Hebs in autumn and I suspect the same in Ireland - some of them do run into bad weather and have to pitch up but its much more infrequent than in spring, so yes it's possible they are all whimbrel.

cheers, Andrew
Thanks!

Arbu, can you remember what the weather was like the days just before your pic??
 

jogresh

Registered nutjob
Hi Rob, yes there's certainly Whimbrel there - that odd hunched posture is quite characteristic.
 

Arbu

Well-known member
On 24th it was fairly sunny with a moderate swell judging by my photos. On 25th I didn't take any photos until I saw these birds, so I expect the weather was quite bad. Otherwise I don't recall.

I've checked my notes and in fact I estimated about 200 whimbrel. I also considered that there were three grey phalarope along with them. Might they migrate with whimbrel? I can't see them in the photo though.

I'm attaching a less cropped version of the photo.
 

Attachments

  • Whimbrel 1-2.jpg
    Whimbrel 1-2.jpg
    69.9 KB · Views: 67

johnallcock

Well-known member
Whimbrel do migrate over Ireland in big flocks - but only in spring. In the autumn, Icelandic Whimbrels (ALL of them!) fly non-stop :eek!: from Iceland direct to West Africa, well out over the Atlantic. So a large flock of waders in Ireland in August is unlikely to be Whimbrels.

Unfortunately, the resolution in your photo isn't good enough to tell what yours are with any certainty. There are at least 2 sizes of birds in your flock, perhaps 3; I'm wondering perhaps a mix of Curlew, Black- and/or Bar-tailed Godwits, and perhaps Grey Plover? Far from sure though!

A couple of comments related to the paper you link to:
- All birds tracked in the paper are adults, which will already have made an earlier migration to wintering grounds and know where to go. It is not necessarily true that juveniles will also make a non-stop flight.
- The paper only looks at Icelandic Whimbrel, not birds breeding in Scotland or continental Europe (although I guess these probably migrate further to the east).
- As commented above, there is a chance that birds over the Atlantic could hit bad weather and be forced to land (which could also account for the phalaropes reported).

These birds all look structurally like Whimbrel to me.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
- The paper only looks at Icelandic Whimbrel, not birds breeding in Scotland or continental Europe (although I guess these probably migrate further to the east).
Yep, Scandinavian Whimbrel (and the tiny number from Scotland) do migrate further east; I'd doubt any ever get as far west as the west coast of Ireland apart from the occasional vagrant :t:
 

Sancho

Registered User
Supporter
I often see Whimbrel in the West of Ireland in autumn, Atlantic Coast of County Clare. Flocks of up to fifty, flying over or feeding in coastal fields. Not necessarily in poor weather. I´ve no idea where they´ve come from though.
 

Arbu

Well-known member
I often see Whimbrel in the West of Ireland in autumn, Atlantic Coast of County Clare. Flocks of up to fifty, flying over or feeding in coastal fields. Not necessarily in poor weather. I´ve no idea where they´ve come from though.

They must have come from Iceland. Apparently there are 250,000 breeding whimbrel in Iceland, plenty enough for some big flocks in Ireland on passage. If the big flocks seen in Ireland and NW Scotland came from Scandinavia then it would be very odd that big flocks aren't sometimes seen in E. England.

The Collins Field Guide is a bit out where it says "On passage ... seen singly or in small parties".
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
My personal largest flock in Northumbs is about 30; that's decidedly rare to get that many, 2-8 is more normal.

Did see two large flocks (70+ in each flock) on the south coast of Portugal coming in off the sea a few years ago - a dramatic sight and sound, as they were all trilling excitedly: probably their first landfall since Gambia or Senegal :t:
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top