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Order Waders, Gulls, Skuas/Charadriiformes, Family Sandpipers/Scolopacidae

Slender-billed Curlew/Numenius tenuirostris - Adult

L 36-41 cm (incl. bill c. 8), WS 77-88 cm. Now extremely rare: very few recent sightings; with Bald Ibis possibly the most endangered species within the treated region. Breeds locally in W Siberia; winters Morocco (only 1-2 birds known recently), SE Italy (flock of c. 20 in 1995), Tunisia (?), Middle East (?); migration via SE Europe or Middle East. In winter, frequents meadows or salt steppe near marshes.
IDENTIFICATION: Whimbrel-sized (cf. p. 148), but slightly more delicate build, and bill thinner and tapering to finer tip (making it appear longer than it is). Ground colour on sides of head, throat and breast whiter, and black streaks more sharply contrasting than on both Whimbrel and Curlew; breast streaking gradually breaks up into diagnostic distinct rounded or drop-shaped spots on lower breast and flanks, contrasting sharply against white ground. Head pattern intermediate between Curlew and Whimbrel, has rather dark loral stripe and crown-side creating impression of light supercilium (though nothing like on Whimbrel, and lacks distinct pale median crown-stripe of that species). Underwing-coverts all white; rump white and uppertail very pale (looking whitish, paler than on Curlew and Whimbrel); secondaries and inner primaries distinctly barred light, giving obvious contrast with darker outer wing (but hardly a diagnostic difference unless directly compared with the other two species). - Juvenile: Flanks streaked, not spotted (some spots acquired in 1st winter). Caution: Curlew can have proportionately as short a bill, white underwing, and contrasting flank markings, so important to be sure of small size, different bill shape, and (on adults) shape of flank spots.
VOICE: Call is a Curlew-like ‘cour-lee’ but sweeter, higher-pitched, and when repeated faster. Alarm in flight a sharper and shorter ‘cuee’.

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