The curlew (Numenius arquata) is a common bird on the mud flats of Poole and Christchurch harbours although at high tide, when it cannot feed, it is forced up on to neighbouring rough pasture. Curlews can be seen on the coast of Dorset all year round but, as with so many other birds, the numbers are boosted in winter by birds arrivals from the colder north where food may be short.
With its long, slightly down turned bill it would be easy to think that the curlew is unmistakable but it does pay to take a closer look, especially around migration times, in case you are looking at the similar, but slightly smaller, whimbrel.
To my mind, the best thing about the curlew is its wonderful 'burbling' call. It has a haunting quality about it and is evocative of the wild places it inhabits, moorland in summer and estuaries in winter.
The curlew is a very sedate wader which is in stark contrast to the apparent endless activity of some of its smaller cousins. The curlew is happy to casually stalk the mud flats looking for ragworm, lugworm and the small molluscs that live deep in the mud, hence its long probing bill.