|Scientific name:||Numenius arquata|
Winter visitor to wetlands throughout Ireland, as well as breeding in small numbers in floodplains and boglands. Numbers and range have declined substantially in recent decades. It is likely that increased afforestation and agricultural improvement are responsible for these declines.
The largest wader - very distinctive with long legs, bulky body, long neck and long decurved bill. Fairly uniform greyish brown, with bold dark streaking all over. Only likely confusion species is the smaller Whimbrel, which occurs in spring and autumn.
Unmistakable ascending "cur..lee, cur..lee" whistle, or sometimes "cew, cew, cew". Song in breeding season a long, rapid bubbling repetition of a single note.
They feed mostly on invertebrates, particularly ragworms, crabs and molluscs. They are usually well dispersed across the estuary while feeding, but roost communally, usually along salt marshes and sand banks.
Nests on the ground in rough pastures, meadows and heather. Not a common breeder, but found in most parts of the country.
Winters in a wide range of wetland habitats (coastal and inland) and other good feeding areas including damp fields. The Irish breeding population is supplemented by Scottish and Scandinavian breeders in winter.
Internationally important resident population, has undergone serious decline. Breeds in a mosaic of upland habitats.
Numbers bolstered in Winter due to influx from Europe. Shannon & Fergus Estuary in County Clare, Cork Harbour in County Cork, Lough Foyle in County Londonderry, Lough Swilly in County Donegal, Strangford Lough in County Down and the Wexford Harbour & Slobs in County Wexford support between 1,500 and 2,500 birds.
Blog posts about this bird
BirdWatch Ireland staff meet ministers to demand action over shocking wild bird declines
Cases of Avian Flu Detected in Ireland
BirdWatch Ireland are asking members of the public to report any dead or sick waterbird species they might find, so the birds can be tested for avian flu.
(This Article has been updated on 16/12/2020 in light of Update No. 16 of 2020 from the Department of Agriculture)Avian Influenza has been confirmed in ten wild birds in Ireland so far this winter and a number of others are currently being tested. In addition, cases of avian influenza H5N8 have been identified in a small turkey flock in Co. Wicklow and the necessary precautions and restrictions have been put in place. Although the risk to both human health, or to garden birds, is very low, BirdWatch Ireland is asking the public to keep an eye out for any waterbird species that may be acting strangely or any dead waterbirds, and to report them to the Department of Agriculture via the Avian Flu hotline (call 076 106 4403) so that they can be tested appropriately. There are numerous strains and subtypes of avian flu that each vary in severity. The strain that has recently been detected in some wild birds in Ireland is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8, which spreads easily between birds and causes illness, with a high death rate. This strain had been detected in a number of European countries before arriving into Ireland last month. BirdWatch Ireland are part of an early warning system with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds, together with colleagues in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NAGC).