Migration and non-breeding distribution of Icelandic Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus islandicus as revealed by ringing recoveries


44 – 48

18 April 16

Tómas Grétar Gunnarsson, Guðmundur A. Guðmundsson


Tómas Grétar Gunnarsson
University of Iceland, South-Iceland Research Centre, Fjölheimar, Bankavegur, IS-800 Selfoss, Iceland


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From the initiation of bird ringing in Iceland in 1921 to 2014, a total of 6,077 Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus have been ringed there, mostly (95%) as unfledged chicks. Of those, 35 have been recovered or sighted outside Iceland and 22 recovered in Iceland. A further four recoveries of Whimbrels ringed abroad have been made in Iceland. We use the distribution of those recoveries in space and time to infer the wintering grounds and migration routes of Icelandic-breeding Whimbrels. Of the 39 recovered Whimbrels, 21 were recovered or ringed in Europe and 18 in Africa. The winter distribution of recovered birds in W Africa ranged from Mauritania in the north to Benin and Togo in the south. Five birds were recovered in Iberia during October–March (two in January), suggesting that some Whimbrels wintering in Iberia may be of Icelandic origin. The distribution of ring recoveries in time suggests that most Icelandic-breeding Whimbrels migrate direct to Africa in the autumn without stopping over in Europe. In spring, several recoveries in Europe, mainly in the British Isles, suggest that stopover during spring migration is more frequent.