This wader, known to its friends (and it has few left of its own kind) as Numenius tenuirostris is extremely rare, and even if still extant, species on the verge of extinction. There is, indeed, an international work group which has been firing off seek-and-find expeditions to such well known places as the steppes of Kazakhstan (is that how you spell it?) where the thing breeds/bred and to the Atlantic coast of Morocco where it has been seen in winter in years gone by.

When I arrived back from England in late August I heard rumours that one had been seen in early August not a thousand miles from where I am writing this and, in my usual generous state, put it down to some inexperienced birder putting it down as one when, in fact, they had very possibly been looking at a juvenile Whimbrel, possibly of one of the eastern races, which species has a longer and more curved bill, amongst other characteristics, the bill is shorter and straighter in juveniles and notably shorter and straighter in Slender-billed Curlew.

In the past 48 hours I have been in contact with Nicola Crockford (actually, she contacted me!) who is coordinator of the working group on the Slender-billed Curlew, henceforth to be known SBC as it takes too long to type it all out and the feeling of the members is that this is one of the best leads in years. There is all sorts of talk about sending people down to track through the areas where they have been claimed but I am doing my best to discourage this as it is, in my opinion, a cold-case (as the police say) and the bird has very probably moved on as the sighting is now 6 weeks old and we all know the through-put that there is on migration. Sending people down would be, I feel, tantamount to burning money that could be used as, if and when there is a fresh sighting, hence this appeal.

look at the Slender-billed Curlew Working Group site www.slenderbilledcurlew.net (cut and paste this address) where you will find all sorts of useful information and should read.

However, the whole business certainly gives me food for thought which why there is this general heads-up call which is also being repeated in the Spanish blog. If you think you have found one, then be critical, take photos, write a description (a lost art but it can tell things that a milli-second photo can't) and if you still think you have got one in your sights, ring me (952-389861/610957514) or e-mail me if you are really, really excited, preferably with a photograph, however poor it may be, and I shall forward the news to the right place p.d.q..

I would ask that if anyone thinks that they have found one, that they keep the news restricted until the observation is confirmed and told otherwise, otherwise we may find Boeing 747s full of twitchers descending on us from all parts of the universe, which would not be good news for the bird or the site wherever it happens to be, given the behaviour of some.

Please note that although I do know the name of the observer, he wishes to remain anonymous and I shall not be giving it out under any circumstances, so don't bother asking me.

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