Wednesday 10 May 2017

A Couple of Euro Whims

Newfoundland has been on the western end of some transatlantic winds for the last five days or so. The winds are not strong but direct. We were expecting a few transatlantic waifs and it happened. Typical Icelandic species and just a light smattering of birds. Very light. A total of four European Golden Plovers at three locations and a Euro Whimbrel around a ship at sea. Then Ed Hayden found two European Whimbrels at Maddox Cove. White-rumped whimbrels are rarer than Black-tailed Godwits in Newfoundland.  Often just a brief visit at a Cape or headland and up to now always a single bird. Two Euro Whimbrels close to St. John's was a hit among the birders.

The two birds were feeding on narrow steep grassy margins between a fairly busy road and the rocky shoreline. A very unlikely place for Whimbrels of any nationality. I struggled with a backup camera, a Canon 40D while my beloved 1D MarkIV is in hospital. In the dark foggy conditions I realised the advantages of a camera capable of good results at higher ISOs among other comforts I'd taken for granted for the last six years. I missed my opt for flight shots because some ()*&^*^ dial accidentally turned to the Mars shooting mode in the moment of action.

The white rumps and white under wings transforms a pretty ordinary looking Whimbrel into a European star.

Is there a way to tell the nationality of these two birds with there white parts concealed? They seem to have more obvious white borders to the wing coverts or is that just my imagination?

Feeding among boulders on a narrow slope between the road and the rocky shoreline was a very unlikely location to find Whimbrels. They arrived in the fog so probably didn't have much of an idea of their surroundings.

Every time they fluttered their wings there was a response of camera shutters on the road. Many locals stopped to see what they were missing. Most were disappointed to find out it was only birds.

This individual vomited.  Looks like a stomach full of fresh slugs. Slugs are common in the grass. Didn't know anything ate them. Maybe there is a good reason for that.

The other bird looked on concernedly at its buddy hurling but seemed OK itself.

Overall this was the best all round European Whimbrel experience ever in Newfoundland. It was enjoyed by the most people and at leisure and there were two of them.


  1. Don't know whether it's in keeping with such a blog to link to the fantastic pictures Frank King posted of these. Eye-watering! Your present pictures very revealing, whatever your disclaimer, and good to have. How soon does ABA join the herd in distinguishing Eurasian from Hudsonian Whimbrel?

  2. So awesome... tell them to fly to Vancouver Bruce ;)

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