The Slender-billed Curlew

Published on 13 April 1999

The record of Slender-billed Curlew reported from Druridge Pools, Northumberland on 4th-7th May 1998 has aroused a lot of interest both nationally and internationally. Because of this, and because of some of the rumours we all hear, BBRC wishes to tell everyone of the progress of the record and why we believe that the assessment may take longer than some are hoping.

BBRC believes that this is argueably the most important record it has ever dealt with as not only will we be judging a record of a bird new to Britain but the decision made may have fundamental effects on conservation issues of one of the world’s most endangered species.

  • Detailed descriptions of the bird took some time to arrive so the record did not begin circulating till November 1998.
  • Jimmy Steele, on behalf of BBRC, undertook a large scale information trawl, including gathering information from Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, the former USSR and Morrocco, as well as from numerous UK sources.
  • By the time this information was gathered and then summarised into a 19 page document it was February before it was passed to the next vote.

To facilitate the assesment, however, we are lacking some vital information. On the 4th-6th May, at least, there was a small curlew present with the bird submitted as Slender-billed Curlew. It too was small, with a small bill (though noticeably larger than the original bird). It also had white underparts with black spots, a more prominent head pattern, white underwings and a whitish tail. We have some photographs of this bird and it also appears in at least one of the videos. At least one member of BBRC, who saw the birds, believes this could also have been Slender-billed Curlew but many observers seem to have confidently identified this as ‘just a small Curlew’. BBRC would like any photos or notes on this other individual and would like to hear from observers on what criteria they used to identify this second individual.