Waders

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus). Photo: Caroline Legg – Flickr

The Eurasian Oystercatcher, with it’s prominent, almost carrot-like, orange bill, and striking black and white plumage is unmistakable. It can readily be found along the shoreline or in muddy fields, where it uses its long beak to probe for worms. It is also a very vocally active species, with a number of calls in its repertoire.

The most common vocalisation is the simple “peeep” or sometimes disyllabic “pu-teee” often repeated, given on the ground or, more typically in flight. Both of these vocalisations are also given as nocturnal flight calls (NFCs):


Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata). Photo: Seán Ronayne

The Curlew is an unmistakable wading bird – the largest in Ireland, with its long decurved bill, which it uses to pry out deep-dwelling worms in soft estuarine sediments or grassy fields. As a breeding species, the Curlew is in serious decline in Ireland, however, in winter the population is temporarily supplemented by northern migrants.

The sound of the Curlew is a haunting characteristic element of Irish estuaries and comes in a variety of vocalisations. The most fitting vocalisation is the flight call, after which the bird is named. Listen below to the “cuhr-leee – cuhr-leee” flight call, and you will see how this species is aptly named, further fitting with the curled-bill of the species:

The song of the species is a series of thrilling haunting notes, which will be described in further detail when we obtain a fitting recording. So far we have managed to record a short snippet of song, which didn’t quite materialise:

The alarm call of the species, a rapid series of hoarse “kur-kur-kur” notes can be heard when it is disturbed, or it senses a threat. In this case, two birds were alarming with urgency, as a large dog Otter approached the shoreline, to eat a fish:


Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa). Photo: Seán Ronayne

Ireland holds internationally important wintering numbers of this medium-sized wading bird. Contrary to its close relative – Bar-tailed Godwit (more often found in sandy, coarser substrates), Black-tailed Godwit prefers soft sediments and can usually be found probing in soft estuarine mud or grassy fields.

Black-tailed Godwit is vocal in Ireland, but not as much as other species, and therefore, we are still trying to obtain further recordings of this species. So far we have obtained the following Jackdaw-like contact call (heard at 0:02 & 0:09 seconds) given from a single individual feeding amongst a flock of 15-20 birds:


Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina) feeding flock. Photo: Seán Ronayne

One of the most frequently found sandpipers in Ireland, small numbers breed, and the winter population is hugely bolstered by migrants. Dunlin are most typically found in a wide-range of coastal habitats, especially on mudflats.

We have yet to obtain the distinctive, highly modulated “shrrrreeet” flight calls of the species but have recorded conversational “plee-pi-pip” calls from a large feeding flock:


Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus). Photo: Mike Beaumont – Flickr.

Common Redshank is the most abundant of the three regularly occurring “shanks” in Ireland. Separated from the Greenshank, by its vivid red legs, smaller size and different vocalisations – it is the sentinel of Irish coastal habitats, and is the first bird to alarm in response to even the slightest hint of threat.

The alarm call is a shrill rapid series of loud erratic notes similar to the typical, but less manic “cheew-chu” call. In the following audio, you can hear a burst of alarm calls followed by flight calls:


Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia). Photo: Seán Ronayne

The largest of our regularly occurring shanks, Greenshank is larger and paler than the closely related Redshank, and is easily told apart from other shanks by its green-grey legs.

The most typically heard vocalisation, in an Irish context, is the flight call. Often repeated in bouts of three or more notes, the “tyu-tyu-tyu” fight call is loud, clear and does not change pitch:


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