Black-winged stilts at Soline

A rare sighting of an endangered species, with thanks to Alison and Bojan Bujić.

Black-winged stilt. Black-winged stilt. Photo: J.M.Garg

Alison Bujić by e-mail 22nd April 2016. We have just returned from a lovely walk around the Soline peninsula where Bojan spotted a pair of Black-winged Stilts standing motionless in a rock-pool.  We watched them for some time with binocs, hoping to see them catch something but in the end we gave up.  They are stunning to look at with their long bright red legs - do you or your bird-expert friend know about them and are they unusual here? We had no idea what they were until we looked them up when we came home.

 

Reply from Steve Jones, April 22nd 2016: I haven't seen them here but am familiar with the bird. Soline is a bit out of "my patch", all of my watching is in and around Dol/Stari Grad due to time restrictions. I will make a note - even when I was "holidaying" I hadn't come across them before. So a good record. Looking at one of my books I would suggest quite unusual/rare to see here but certainly not impossible and I would have no reason to doubt it as they are quite distinctive.

The Croatian State Institution for Nature Protection classifies the black-winged stilt as “critically endangered“. The description certainly illustrates why this bird should be protected: 

“The black-winged stilt is a very social bird. Outside of nesting season, they remain in small flocks of 5 to 10 birds, and are occasionally included in mixed flocks with other shorebirds. They are rarely solitary. Large flocks are common at resting areas. They nest in colonies, usually containing 10 to 40 pairs. They are monogamous, with the relationship between partners lasting one nesting season. They build their nests on the ground, on islands or spits surrounded by shallow water, occasionally even on dry ground. Building the nest, incubating the eggs and raising the young is the task of both parents. The brood usually consists of four eggs that hatch in 22-23 days, and the young birds are independent within 2 to 4 weeks.

The black-winged stilt began to nest in Croatia at the end of the 20th century, and today, few of these birds nest at only a few known localities.”

 Alison, April 22nd 2016: Thank you - this is really interesting and confirms Bojan's suspicion that they may have strayed from the Neretva delta area.

Photo of black-winged stilt by J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsHTML
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