sb24582's picture

Stonehaven Bay 021_edited-1

Observed: 6th December 2010 By: sb24582
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - current student
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Stonehaven Bay 021_edited-1
Species interactions

No interactions present.


jhn7's picture


I don't think this is a curlew, although it is difficult to see on the extra enlarged image I do not think the bill is long and downcurved. I think the shape that looks like the end of the bill comes from slightly above the tip and is the rock face behind.

Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

bobthebirder's picture


The white eye-ring means that this bird is much more likely to be a redshank than any of the other species mentioned, even though the photo does not show the leg colour. Bill shape and length is right too.

Bob Ford

RoyW's picture

I definitely disagree.

Sorry, but IMO there is absolutely no way that this photo shows a Redshank. Apart from the leg colour (grey), Redshanks only have dark centres to the upperparts in juvenile plumage. By now juvenile Redshanks will have largely moulted into more adul type plumage - at the very least they will show some plainer upperpart feathers.
This is an example of a first winter Redshank (top bird in the link):

It's more difficult to make a call between Bar-tailed Godwit and Curlew, but it does look more likely to be a Curlew - the bills just become almost unnoticeable due to blur. The white eye-ring is probably less noticeable than it appears, it's just been emphasized by the exposure and slight lack of focus, but Curlews do often show pale eye-rings (and godwits can sometimes appear paler around the eye).

bobthebirder's picture


The original observer sb24582 IDed the bird as a curlew. Perhaps he/she noticed the bill shape and can solve the problem?

Bob Ford

David Gibbs's picture

it's a Curlew

the length and curvature of the bill can be judged by the bright white spot which must be a drop of water on the bill tip. Further the pale colour of the bill is predominant on the lower mandible and mantle and scapular feathers with bold dark centres and broad pale fringes. Redshank much more uniform than this in winter, even in juv plumage.

jhn7's picture

White spot

I think the bright white spot on the end of the bill shape is a reflection on the seaweed - see similar to the right of the bird.

Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

David Gibbs's picture

the seaweed

directly behind the bill tip is in shade so any water droplets there cannot have so refracted or reflected the sun.

RoyW's picture

I agree.

This is the same view that I came up with when I took a close look at the photos.

There could be another explanation for the apparent long, down curved bill (with a water drop at the end) that appears to be in the photograph (eg. some sort of photographic artifact), but I would think that it would be highly improbable for this to result in a blurry bill shape that perfectly matches the ID that is being considered.

IMO this bird either has the beak of a Curlew, or a moderately long beak with a marine worm dangling from the end (that just happens to have given a shape like the bill of a Curlew...).

I'm sticking firmly with Curlew for the ID!

Ray Turner's picture

Correlation is not ...

... causation to bend a metaphor. IMHO this is an optical illusion, we are seeing the shape of the rock behind the bill. The improbability is not so improbable because we are attempting to fit the evidence to a hypothesis. However I agree there is doubt and I do struggle to explain the ‘droplet' so for that reason I have refrained from giving an ID.



RoyW's picture


Although before I took a close look at the photo I thought that Bar-tailed Godwit was the more likely ID!
(I think that there are several other small details that point more towards Curlew as well - including the 'bulk' of the bird, the eyering, + the lack of pale supercilium).

With regard to the "water droplet", there is also a similar pale spot to the right of the bird - which may make it easier to argue that it may not be a water droplet! (I don't think that the apparent curved bill is an illusion though).

Norwichnaturalist's picture


1st winter

Colin Jacobs.
Wild Flower Society member