Oldest whimbrel on Shetland


This is a whimbrel video from Spain.

Allan Perkins writes:

15 September 2010

New Whimbrel longevity record

This summer I spent 3 months on Fetlar, Shetland, studying the breeding success of Whimbrel to help investigate their ‘recent’ declines. Previous studies by Murray Grant on Fetlar and Unst in the 1980s had involved catching and colour-ringing adult Whimbrel, to monitor brood survival and returning rates of adults from their tropical wintering grounds in subsequent breeding seasons. During 1986-88, 97 Whimbrel were colour-ringed and of those the returning rates were high – c. 89% seen the year after ringing – and most birds returned to breed at the same site used in the previous year. Sightings of some of these birds on Fetlar continued up until the mid-1990s, but none had been recorded since then.

It was on 9 May, this year when I first saw one of these colour ringed birds feeding on the short cliff-top turf of Strandburgh Ness, at the extreme northeast tip of Fetlar. Frustratingly it wasn’t until 31 May that I managed to get good views of the colour ring combination and amazingly it was a bird ringed in the 1980s.

The bird was identified as EK92102, ringed as an adult breeding on Fetlar on 1 June 1986, and sexed as a male from subsequent observations. Given that Whimbrels do not normally start to breed until they are two or three years old, this bird must be at least 26 years old, making it the oldest known Whimbrel in the world! This surpasses the previous longevity record of 16 years, held by a Whimbrel ringed as a chick on Mainland Shetland in June 1979 and shot in northern France in August 1995.

EK92102 was last recorded in 1995, but it seems likely that it had been returning, undetected, to Fetlar each year since then. Maybe it will return again next year for potentially its 26th breeding season.

October 2010: Almost a quarter of a century after it was first ringed on the island of Fetlar in Shetland, a whimbrel has been found breeding on the same island, less than 1 km away: here.

Disastrous breeding season for some of Shetland’s birds: here.

Bird ringing on Texel, the Netherlands: here.

10 thoughts on “Oldest whimbrel on Shetland

  1. Pingback: Dutch mallard nest webcam | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Turnstones, oystercatchers, willow warbler | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Purple sandpipers, red knot, eider duck | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Birds of Terschelling island, the Netherlands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Dutch godwit flies to Sierra Leone | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Red-necked phalarope migration, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Mangrove swallows, marbled godwit and caracara in Costa Rica | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: ‘White’ whimbrel in Morocco | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: English coastal birds news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Bird news from England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.