Saturday 22 October 2016

curlews... Far Eastern and Eurasian in Mie

I remember having difficulty separating the two large curlews at long range when I first came to Japan. I focused too much on the front end thinking Far Eastern was longer-billed. Probably only adult females actually stand out from Eurasian as freakishly long-billed; immatures can look surprisingly short-billed. I now know the back end is a far more reliable guide no matter how distant the bird may be.

I picked up a line of nine curlews on a distant sandbar in Mie yesterday, effectively they were tiny dots against the last narrow strip of sand the incoming tide hadn't washed over. Even through the scope no details could be made out but one of them seemed white on the lower belly. Surely a Eurasian with eight Far Eastern. Some Far Eastern are paler than others but I've yet to see a white one and after waiting till the water pushed them off the white rump confirmed what I'd expected.

Later in a different area, as the tide began to drop again, I was sifting through a flock of Red-necked Stints when heard curlew flighting in across the submerged flats. A party of 13 curlew circled several times before settling right in front of me. Presumably the previous group had picked up a couple more birds along the way, there were now 12 Far Eastern and a Eurasian.

Even head-on there's a hint of the white flanks on the Eurasian, off-setting the flank streaks.


  1. Only ever seen 1 Eurasian in Japan, lots of Far Easterns though.

    Some nice BIF work.............

  2. Thanks Stuart. Eurasian is regular here but always outnumbered by Far Eastern.