I suspect the European White Storks, Flamingos and Redshanks will disagree , but Aves de Portugal describe Black Winged Stilts (scientific name – Himantopus himantopus) as the ‘kings’ of the saltpans. They certainly act like it at times! Their numbers vary enormously on the saltpans near us, with some years only a few appearing and other years such as this year they’re everywhere.
Some guides indicate that females have whiter heads and that the juveniles are the ones with the grey heads. However our favourite bird book when travelling in Europe – Collins Bird Guide – confirms what I was beginning to suspect that when it comes to gender there is much overlap in colourings and markings, and that the patterns are not a robust indicator of sexes. So I am not 100% sure who is who in the squabbling group above, although pretty sure a mix of adults and juveniles.
As a species, however, they are unmistakable with their black and white markings, incredibly long legs and noisy calls. Their Portuguese name is ‘pernilongo’, and it is a name also used for mosquito. When I look again at their dangling slightly bent legs and listen to their annoying call, I can see the resemblance!
As you might imagine with such an elegant and distinctive bird I photograph them often. So if you have time to spare why not explore some of my earlier posts. I have also included below a few photos from those posts to tempt you to explore further!
- The wader with the longest legs features in ‘It’s been a while‘
- Their fabulous shape is perfect for ‘Evening Reflections in the Salterns‘
- Early days of my wader photo blogging captured in ‘You’ve got long legs‘