It’s been a while . . .

It has been quite a while since we saw the wader with the longest legs. In fact it has been a while since we saw any waders as our Portuguese winter sojourn has been delayed, hence also the lack of regular posts this autumn. All being well though we will be back in January, and once again I will be posting weekly as well as comparing my pins to the long pins of stilts!

Black Winged Stilt

Stilts can be found almost everywhere around the world, usually in marshes and mudflats, or on the edges of lakes and rivers. There are white-backed stilts in South America, black necked stilts in America including a subspecies Hawaiian stilt, black stilts in New Zealand, pied stilts in Australasia, banded stilts in Australia and black winged stilts in Africa and Eurasia. All, apart from the very rare black stilt and the endangered Hawaiian stilt, are common waders. We regularly see black-winged stilts on Portugal’s coastal estuaries and even occasionally inland on the banks of the Guadiana.

Their diet is invertebrates, especially aquatic insects, and they feed whilst wading often in water above ‘knee’. They can swim but it is such a rare occurrence if we ever see them swimming are always confused for a few moments as to what bird it is! Otherwise they are unmistakable thanks to their black and white markings, repeated high pitched calls and those incredible long legs; 60% of their height is leg!

Stilt shadow

Overall the numbers of black-winged stilts seem to be increasing, however numbers in some places of Europe and Africa are declining because the wetland habitats where they live are being lost and degraded by human activity and climate change. We have certainly noticed a fall in numbers in the salt pans around Olhรฃo, but guess only time will tell if this is a permanent change or simply a reflection of the recent dry and warm winters.

On the upside, as with many birds, their migration habits are changing. They were once a summer visitor in Portugal, but these days are observed year round in the Mondego, Tagus and Sado estuaries as well as the Ria Formosa.ย For more details on where to see the ‘Pernilongo’ in Portugal visit Aves de Portugal, and for more photographs visit my reflections post.



Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

34 thoughts

  1. Such long legs those waders have – and nice photos – I like the ones in the circles –
    And ahhhh – with winter moving in where I am – some water and some waders was nice – thanks B

    1. So glad you enjoyed, and that you liked my circular moments ๐Ÿ™‚
      Winter is moving in here in England too, really missing not being in southern Portugal at the moment!

  2. There are perhaps 2 pairs in the Salinas,at the moment.
    The decline was savage,and coincided with the dumping of excavated material alongside the fresh(?) water stream bordering the Salinas.
    The Stilts nesting ridge was about 25 m from that action,which they did not appreciate,and for the moment have largely abandoned the site.
    Another example of Olhao town hall riding roughshode over environmental considerations.

  3. It is a shame that so much of waders habitat has been lost around the world due to mankinds want to develop the valuable wetlands and shorelines that Stilts and other fabulous birds need for their existence. Wagers are birds on my list so I really should get out there and discover where they are around here.
    Fabulous photos Becky ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Terrifying how fast wetlands are disappearing โ˜น๏ธ

      MrB loves waders, so we’re always out observing in Portugal. Consequently I have thousands of wader photos. No idea what I am going to do with them all!

      1. Catalogue them so future generations will know where waders were found and what they looked like.
        I despair at the rate of species extinction ๐Ÿ™

        1. Oh yes. So totally human. When will those who pretend to run the world, with the assistance of media and wealthy business people, extreme conservatives/right wing realise that climate change is really happening. I am over being angry at these people, just sigh and keep making a difference where I can

        2. Unfortunately think that is all we can do…but it’s so tough making a difference in a world which runs on consumerism

  4. Stilts are such beautiful birds. Interesting with the changing migration habits, many small birds decide to stay the winter with us too.

Love to hear your thoughts