sparse winter visitor

Long-legged Buzzard

A medium-sized, long-winged raptor, usually with an unbarred orange tail. Streaked sandy-brown overall. Larger and paler than Common, particularly on head and breast which contrast with darker reddish-brown belly. Very prominent black carpal patches, trailing edges and wingtips contrast with white, lightly barred flight feathers. Long bare yellow legs. Looks rangy in flight.

Montagu’s Harrier

Slender, medium-sized raptor, with dark grey head, breast, back and inner wing; a lighter grey on rest of wing and tail with black wing tips and narrow white rump. Black secondary bar and chestnut streaking on belly and underwing. Similar Pallid is pale grey with slim black wing-tips; larger Hen is grey with broad black wingtips. Females and immatures of all three are streaked brown and have owl-like faces and white rumps.

Pallid Harrier

Male: light grey upperparts, dark wedges on primaries, pale grey head and underbody; lacks black secondary bars. Female: distinctive underwing pattern; pale primaries, irregularly barred and lacking dark trailing edges. Immature male may display rusty breast band and juvenile facial markings.

Brown-headed Gull

A medium-sized, pale gull with large white spots in black wing tips. Adult is pearly-grey above and white below, with chocolate brown partial hood in breeding plumage, reducing to earmark when not breeding. First years have brownish in wings and black tail bars. Has very pale irises and white eye rings. Sexes alike. Scavenges, e especially fish waste from humans, robs terns but also catches flying and surface insects. Light, easy flight. Swims buoyantly, often among ducks and Coots. Breeds colonially in high-altitude bogs.

Pallas’s Gull

A big, pale, deep-chested, long-winged gull with long-sloping forehead and strong black and orangetipped yellow bill. Breeding adult has black head and white eye rings. In non-breeders head turns dusky. Pale grey above with whiter outer wing and few black wing spots near tips. Immature browner but still pale and shows grey mantle and wing panel. Often solitary, but readily mixes with smaller gulls and terns. Scavenges fish waste and robs others for fish. Heavy buoyant heron-like flight.

Northern Lapwing

A big, dumpy, black and white wader with a long upswept wispy crest that is black in colour. Crown, face and cheek stripes are black as well. Upperparts  have a purplish-grey sheen. Undertail coverts are orange and breast is black. Pinkish legs and short dark bill. Rounded wings have white tips and underwing coverts. The tail is white with black tips. Sexes similar but female has white patches in black areas. Juveniles rather scaly above, rarely mixing with other waders. Usually in parties, feeding by running and stopping to pick up surface invertebrates. Relaxed, low, flapping flight. Shy in region

Kentish Plover

A rather dumpy wader with black bill and blackish legs. Like all small plovers it has sandy-brown upperparts, crown and cheeks, small dark patches on breast, and a white collar. Breeding plumage male has chestnut rear crown and black forehead, cheeks and breastsides. Strong white wingbars and edges to tail and rump.


An erect, large-bodied and small-headed wader, very variable in plumage and size. In non-breeding plumage, scalloped brownish-grey above with greyish, brownish, or occasionally, in males, white head, neck and breast. The male acquires crown tippets and neck ruff of varying colours in spring. Legs are usually orange, greenish when young. Bill rather short and slightly down-curved. In characteristic, rather easy, flight shows thin wing bars and white ovals on dark rump. Feeds in large, often single sex flocks. Eats insects and grain.


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.