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Numenius phaeopus


A relatively large wading bird that, in Europe, can be mistaken for the bigger Eurasian curlew. It has longish legs and a downwards curving bill, and has a whitish colouration on its underside. It is widespread, found in Europe, Asia and North America (where it breeds in the northern parts of these places), and migrates in the summer to Africa, South America, southern Asia and even Australasia.


Normally, whimbrels are found near water where they can probe for invertebrates in the mud, but this little guy was a stow-away on our ship. While these birds breed on tundra-like habitats, he went much further north than is usual for these birds. These pictures were taken when we were passing the island of Jan Mayen.


I've been in two minds about uploading these, because this whimbrel actually died shortly after I photographed him. We encountered a storm a few days earlier, and I assume that this little one got blown off course and ended up on our boat. While we made every effort to feed him, I think what killed him was a the cold (he's just not an Arctic bird). I felt bad about putting the pictures up. However, whimbrels aren't overly common in the UK, they only pass through during migrations, and I am probably never going to get this close to a whimbrel ever again... so it gives a unique opportunity to get some detailed pictures of these birds. So I decided to put them up after all.

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LucBertrand 10 years ago

Spectacular !!!!! very nice photos

Wild Things
Wild Things 10 years ago

Lovely spotting! Sad for the bird:'-(

LauraMaria 10 years ago

Thanks Sachin and Maria! I was hoping this could be kind of educational, which is why I decided to upload it. I think this guy actually lived a bit longer because he ended up on our ship rather than just in the middle of the ocean. I know that seabirds often get blown over land during storms, but when the opposite happens, it's a little harder for them to recover :(

Maria dB
Maria dB 10 years ago

They are great shots and it's sad that the bird died, but your spotting is educational in explaining what can happen as a result of a storm.

Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 10 years ago


Spotted by

Spotted on Jun 10, 2012
Submitted on Aug 21, 2012

Spotted for Mission

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