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Conservation status: Red

The whimbrel is a large wading bird. It has longish legs and a long bill that curves near the tip. It is brownish above and whitish below. In flight, it shows a white 'V' shape up its back from its tail. In the UK, this species only breeds in north Scotland. It is a passage migrant to other areas in spring and autumn on its way from and to its wintering areas in South Africa. The Shetland and Orkney breeding population has been slowly increasing.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Numenius phaeopus

Family

Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

You could see breeding birds on a visit to Shetland or Orkney in summer. Otherwise, passage migrants can be seen on the coast and sometimes inland in suitable habitat, when hearing its distinctive call can be the best clue to its presence.

When to see them

Mid-April to August

What they eat

On breeding grounds insects, snails and slugs; on passage, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, worms.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-400-500 pairs30 birds-

Distribution

Key

Audio

Dougie Preston, Xeno-canto