Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Whimbrel
Gaelic: Eun-Bhealltuin, Guibneach-bheag
Photograph © Terry Fountain
MOD Range - South Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
20th May, 2006
- Numenius phaeopus
- Gaelic: Eun-Bhealltuin, Guibneach-bheag
- UK: Breeding 350 - 500 pairs
- UK: 3000 birds passage
- WI: Rare migrant breeder (1-9 breeding records), fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
- Winters: South Africa
- Habitat: Tundra, moor, heath, on passage marsh & estuary
- Like a Curlew which is a bit smaller. In flight, shows a white 'V' shape up its back from the tail. Very distinct dark stripe eye to bill, pale mid-crown stripe
- Listen to a Whimbrel (RSPB site). Has a distinct call
- Similar birds: Curlew
Whimbrel are long-distance migrants, with breeding grounds in the sub-arctic zones of North Europe, North Asia and North America.
350 to 500 pairs breed in the UK, but none further South than the Grampian Mountains. We get an occasional record of a territory in the Western Isles, usually the bird seen here is on passage, and is the nominate race phaeopus which breeds from NE Greenland to Central Siberia and Winters along the W and E coast of Africa and along thecoasts of the Indian Ocean .
The bird prefers hummocky heathland and moorland as a breeding habitat. On migration it is found on wet meadows and estuaries. It usually winters on coastal habitas, saltmarshes, beaches and mudflats.
Whimbrel records in the Western Isles
Rare migrant breeder (1-9 breeding records), fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Whimbrel is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section