'Oldest whimbrel' recorded on Shetland

Whimbrel in 1980s [Pic: Dr Murray Grant] The whimbrel was ringed back in 1986 on Fetlar

A whimbrel ringed on a Shetland island almost a quarter of a century ago is now believed to be the world's oldest, RSPB Scotland has said.

The bird was ringed on Fetlar in 1986 and has now been identified breeding on the same island.

Start Quote

My pleasure at learning of this record-breaking whimbrel is tempered by the fact that we've only found it because of our research into their population decline on Shetland”

End Quote Dr Murray Grant RSPB Scotland

RSPB Scotland said it was believed to be the oldest surviving ringed whimbrel in the world, more than doubling the typical 11-year lifespan.

The previous oldest 16-year-old was shot in France in 1995.

Dr Murray Grant, principal conservation scientist with RSPB Scotland, said: "I first came across this bird 24 years ago during my PhD research on whimbrel in Shetland.

"It was probably at least two or three years old then, as that's when these birds normally start breeding, so it is a great surprise to learn that it is still revisiting Fetlar after so long."

However he explained: "My pleasure at learning of this record-breaking whimbrel is tempered by the fact that we've only found it because of our research into their population decline on Shetland.

"When I first encountered this bird there were some 80 pairs of whimbrel breeding on Fetlar, now there are probably fewer than 25.

"Sadly, it seems that this level of decline is typical of the rest of Shetland, which holds a vast majority of the UK population."

RSPB Scotland has initiated new research on the species.

Dr Grant said: "The UK population looks like it may have declined by up to 50% in the last 20 years.

"The reasons for these very rapid decreases aren't clear but we hope that our study of the species, which has started this year, will help us understand the difficulties they face.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC North East, Orkney and Shetland

Weather

Lerwick

17 °C 12 °C

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.