12 Nov 2014

12 Nov 14 - An Amazing Curlew

One of the many highlights of the Pitcairn trip was seeing Bristle-thighed Curlews well. I had seen one before on a trip to Hawaii in 2002, but it wasn't particularly close views. Earlier in the Pitcairn trip, we had seen a few, but again none were great views. But while the others were seeing the first Polynesian Ground Doves, I found a couple of approachable Bristle-thighed Curlews on the beach.
Bristle-thighed Curlew: Initially, they weren't very approachable
Bristle-thighed Curlew: But they quickly settled down & allowed me to get close, providing I moved up slowly
Bristle-thighed Curlew: Note, the Whimbrel-like crown stripe
Bristle-thighed Curlew: Note, the wear of the pale patches in the wing feathers
Bristle-thighed Curlew: I was starting to get used to the Canon SX60 camera, but was very impressed by this early photo
Bristle-thighed Curlew: The all important bristles
Bristle-thighed Curlew: Finally, I got too close and they moved another 20 metres along the beach & I left them in peace
What I find amazing is how these Bristle-thighed Curlews find these remote islands. They breed in Western Alaska, but Winter in Hawaii, Micronesia & French Polynesia. Having flown over the islands as we travelled between Tahiti & Mangareva, there is a lot of sea with very few small islands. By the Autumn, when the Bristle-thighed Curlews start flying South, then do the 1st Winter Curlews migrate with experienced adults or do they travel independently of the adults. So how do they migrate & manage to find their islands?

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