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Aa specimen of the now-extinct Eskimo Curlew - did British birders miss their chance at this species, even when it was in front of them? Photo: John Mosbaugh (
Aa specimen of the now-extinct Eskimo Curlew - did British birders miss their chance at this species, even when it was in front of them? Photo: John Mosbaugh ( image

Slender chance

Posted on: 01 Apr 2011 Expires on: 31 Mar 2050

A leading Russian ornithologist has attacked Britain's record assessment process after confirmation that Slender-billed Curlew is to be removed from the British list. Uri Limuskvejokin, a specialist in systematics at the University of Molotov Natural Sciences Academy, described the decision as "long overdue", saying it was an open secret that the Druridge Bay bird had been officially reidentified as an Eskimo Curlew.

Though a hybrid between the two species has not been entirely excluded, belated mitochondrial DNA analysis of a feather recovered covertly from the Druridge Bay bird appears to show that the bird's mother at least was of the now-extinct North American species. Reasons for the controversial misidentification appear to be nothing more complex than that the Eskimo Curlew was so far 'off the radar' for British birders.

An announcement is expected soon correcting the historical error, and Slender-billed naysayers should now be placated, and  original observers of the bird should be able to replace one presumed extinct species on their lists with another.

Dr Limuskvejokin's other recent studies include tail loss in wild Pallas's Rosefinches, the formal description of Larus barabensis as Barbaric Gull, and the recent lumping of Stejneger's and White-winged Scoters with Velvet Scoter. He is a founder member of the Ussuriland 400 Club and a keen supporter of the BSE concept concept.


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