Snipes, Curlews, Sandpipers


A tiny wader with slightly decurved, black bill and black legs. Size, plumage and bill length varies. In non-breeding plumage, grey above; grey breast sides. Breeding plumage a mix of rufous, black and grey above with rufous-streaked crown and unique black belly patch below black-streaked breast. Has wing bars, black line through white rump, grey tail.

Little Stint

Tiny, short-billed wader with black legs. Nonbreeding adult is finely scalloped grey above with diffuse grey breast sides. When breeding, grey becomes rufous with black feather centres on wings and fine white mantle lines. Throat white. Juvenile plumage similar to adult breeding but less rufous. Mantle lines more prominent, dark-capped with split white supercilia. In flight, thin wing bars and black line on white rump and grey tail.

Marsh Sandpiper

Smaller than the Greenshank but with dark, needlethin bill. Neatly marked grey above with darker wing shoulder; cap and hind neck are grey; rest of underparts white. In breeding season darker and more marked above; head and neck heavily streaked. Long white back stripe and no wing bars. Feeds on aquatic invertebrates, stepping delicately through water. Mixes with other waders. Fairly tame.

Spotted Redshank

A long-necked and long-billed wader with a slim white back stripe and no wing bars and long red legs. Nonbreeding plumage is lighter grey above with fine black speckles. Head and neck paler with clear but short white supercilia. Underparts white. Long bill dark with red lower mandible and slight downcurve at tip. In breeding plumage, strikingly black on head, neck and underparts and white-spotted dark grey upperparts. Sexes alike.

Eurasian Curlew

Sexes alike. A large wader. Sandy-brown upper body, scalloped fulvous and black; white rump and lower back; whitish below, streaked black; very long, down-curved beak. Mostly solitary; feeds with other large waders; runs on ground, between tidemarks, occasionally venturing into very shallow water; a truly wild and wary bird, not easy to approach close.

Jack Snipe

The smallest and most distinctive snipe, and the only one with a wedge-shaped tail that is not rufous. Short-billed, with distinctive head pattern (split supercilium, with short dark line over eye and no pale central coronal stripe), conspicuous long straight golden scapular and mantle-stripes and streaked breast. In flight, no pale panel on upperwing-coverts; note rounded wings with faint white trailing edges and pointed tail, partly white underwing and extensively white belly.

Temminck’s Stint

Tiny, rather plain wader with short, fine, slightly down-curved bill, pale yellowish legs; rather parallel posture; non-breeding adult has more uniform grey-brown upperparts, grey wash on breast, white underparts; darker black and brown patterning on upperparts in breeding, with darker head and breast; in flight, differs from other stints by white outer-tail feathers; fairly, but not overly, gregarious; singly, or in small scattered flocks; shy, skulking at edges of wetlands; easily overlooked; slower, less active feeder than other stints.

Common Sandpiper

Sexes alike. Olive-brown above, more ash-brown and streaked brown on head and neck sides; brown rump; white below; lightly streaked brown on breast; in flight, narrow white wing bar and brown rump; white ‘hook’ at shoulder; In summer, darker above and speckled. One to 3 birds, either by themselves or scattered amidst mixed wader flocks; quite active; makes short dashes, bobbing and wagging short tail; usually flies low over water, the rapid wingbeats
interspersed with short glides (‘vibrating flight’) helping identification of the species.

Wood Sandpiper

Sexes alike. Grey-brown above, closely spotted with white; slender build; white rump and tail; white below; brown on breast; no wing bar. Summer: dark olivebrown above, spotted white. The Green Sandpiper T. ochropus is stouter, more shy, much darker and glossy brown-olive above; in flight, white rump contrasts strikingly with dark upper body; blackish below wings diagnostic. Small to medium-size flocks, often with other waders; quite active, probing deep into mud or feeding at edge.

Green Sandpiper

Medium-sized, dark, stocky sandpiper with relatively short green legs; white-spotted dark greenish brown upperparts; crown, neck and breast streaked more heavily in breeding adult; white eye-rings and lores; very dark underwing, visible in flight, with white rump, belly and vent, and dark banded tail diagnostic; usually solitary; shy, wary; easily overlooked.