Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Curlew

(1) Curlew
(1) Curlew
(2) Curlew
(2) Curlew
(3) Curlew
(3) Curlew




This weeks bird The 'Curlew' should be well know to us, as it can only be mistaken by one other bird the 'Whimbrel but as these are very thin on the ground, I don't see a problem.

The Curlew's long softly curved bills are perfect for probing the sand , looking for a wide range of invertebrates. ( creepy crawlies), or, if the tide is in, they will head for the farmers fields, hoping that they the rains have softened the soil and enticed the earthworms to the surface. If no rain, they may well be in for a time of dieting till the tide recedes once more.

It must be hard for wading birds to feed on the shores, as the low tides at times, fall on the hours of darkness, so they will have to depend on touch if they want to feed at night, but maybe that is why they can be seen in the fields?

Although I have never went out to the shores at night to see if I can find them feeding, I have no doubt that they are there, as , like us , their eyes get used to the low light after a short while, and when there is clear skies and a full moon that is a bonus for them.
They only need to see where they are going, then their long bill is an excellent sensor for finding food.
Description. Size 51-61 cms (20-24ins), Colour.All upper parts buff and brown, with the throat and breast buff and brown -streaked Rump. A white V which extends up the back. Voice. A drawn out coor-lee, with a bubbling call in the summer.
Legs- grey and long.

The junior Curlew has a shorter bill and this can cause confusion with the other look-a-like, -the Whimbrel, but it's bill is shorter and only decurved at the tip, and it is smaller with a striped crown, so look for a long- softly-curved bill, and you have the Curlew.
In the spring, they head for the hills, not for them to be nesting along the shores , to be upset by people having a picnic, throwing stones in the water, or exercising their dogs.. They must have seen what happens to the Oystercatchers, and said to themselves, this is not for us, so they nest on the moors.

They are a lovely sight as the climb up into the skies , and then softly descend giving their bubbling call, and if there are many pairs, then, it is most enjoyable to be there and to hear them.If you go to the moors in the breeding season, remember ,they, and lots of other species, are ground nesting birds.

Norrie Mulholland


First Published in the Buteman  25-05-2012


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