Tomorrow Sunday 21st April is going to be world curlew day, very appropriate too with the Humber helping to support about 3000 wintering curlew every year, mostly from Scandinavia but very sadly having no breeding birds closer than on the Yorkshire Wolds, Weldrake Ings and maybe the odd pair left around the Doncaster area.

Curlew from last night at Ousefleet, only 6 birds remained............ 

What better way to understand what we are moving towards if we don't conserve what curlews are left around the world of all species, with most if not all in fact in very alarming decline and two species almost certainly extinct. In a short while we will have no breeding curlew in the UK if things carry on as they are.

And so on Thursday evening I went to one of my special places on the reserve, Ousefleet hide with its shallow seasonal flood, always a good place from Autumn through to spring for a good range of species and often that special birding experience that we all remember for years and years. Rather fittingly it was our two regular 'British' curlew species that provided an awesome spring migration experience, curlew that were very excited and calling madly psyching themselves up for migration over to Scandinavia and then a couple of drop in splendid whimbrel that stopped off briefly on their northward migration. 

The mix of curlew calling and then whimbrel joining in the cacophony of calls was just sheer bliss with eventually some of the fifteen or so curlew lifting and heading east while the whimbrel headed west maybe to Iceland. 

Whimbrel with two curlew 

There is no doubt that these strong Easterly blows have kept the Scandinavian curlew much later in the UK than normal with about 100 birds feeding regularly on our grazing marsh, but with the winds easing the curlew have undertaken a mass exodus out of the Humber over the North Sea and on to Norway, Sweden and Finland to get down to breeding. Many birds have been heading over Spurn in their mad dash to make it 'home' in time to nest. 

Here's a few more photo's and hopefully some working video of the evenings events - hopefully they will inspire you to make sure we don't lose our curlew's and come to that so many of our other wading birds that have suffered almost cataclysmic declines in their breeding numbers over the last 50 years. 

Curlew with wings stretched and two whimbrel

Whimbrel and curlew - you can see the distinct head stripe on the whimbrel (left)

Excited curlew ready to fly east!


Curlew with black tailed godwits and konik pony

Close up whimbrel 

Whimbrel showing under-wing pattern

And another close up