The Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) is a critically endangered species and is one of the rarest bird species in the Palearctic. It breeds in marshes and peat bogs in the Siberian taiga and migrates to over-winter around the Mediterranean area (Edit: a study using stable isotopes found that the core breeding area was actually in the steppes of northern Kazakhstan).
The latest verified sightings were at Merja Zerga, Morocco. This was a well-known wintering site, and all records are well-documented (last time seen here is winter 1995). The latter sightings in Greece (1999), Oman (1999) and Hungary (2001) are not widely accepted.
If the best known site for the Slender-billed Curlew is Merja Zerga, the analysis of historical records showed that the species has frequented also several sites along the coast of North Africa from Tunisia to southern Morocco (91.5% of the 142 sites with Slender-billed Curlew records are within 1 km of the coast, Buchanan et al. 2010).
In the framework of the 1994 intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding concerning conservation measures for the Slender-billed Curlew under the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the “Slender-billed Curlew Working Group” (SBCWG) was formed in 1997. After a period of dormancy from 2003 until mid 2008, the Working Group was relaunched in December 2008. One of the SBCWG’s roles is to coordinate the effort to find the species in the known wintering sites (as is it practically impossible to search the huge potential breeding area in Siberia).
It would be very good if you can help in this “last and final push” to find this enigmatic species before it is too late. If you are considering joining the effort, please read the “Toolkit for Finding the Slender-billed Curlews“.
Buchanan G., Crockford N. & Gretton A. 2010. The Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris in Africa. Bull ABC 17: 202-206.
You can see the report of the survey to search the Slender-billed Curlew along the Moroccan coasts carried out in February 2011:
Moores, R.D., Amezian, M. & Elbanak, A. 2011. Morocco Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) survey: Mediterranean Coast and northern Atlantic coast, 06.02.2011-13.02.2011. Unpublished report.
The only known video footage and sound-recording of Slender-billed Curlew! The recordings were made at Merja Zerga, Morocco.