sparse winter visitor

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.

Eurasian Coot

A large, blackish aquatic crake with prominent white bill and frontal shield. Looks tailless. Sootyblack head and neck with a more grey than black body and whitish trailing edge to wings. Sexes alike. Juvenile has whitish throat and foreneck, grey bill with no shield. Greenish feet. Feeds on vegetable matter. Flocks may panic and splatter clumsily across the water. Flies low but strongly, with lobed toes projecting. Builds anchored, floating reed nest.

Short-eared Owl

A medium-sized, heavily-streaked buff, terrestrial owl with long wings. Upperparts and breast streaked blackish on buff ground colour. Upper primaries
are yellowish with black tips and white trailing edge. Under-wing whitish with black tips and carpal crescents. A small head with short ear tufts and bold facial disc; black mask round small yellow irises. Cat-like face. Sexes alike. Diurnal hunter covering ground buoyantly. Rests in grass clumps or in shade of thorn
bush. If flushed often flies high when may be mobbed by raptors or corvids. Will perch on posts.

Eurasian Wryneck

A small, rather reptilian-looking woodpecker, the colour of tree bark. Basically grey and brown with dark eyestripes and dark stripe running from crown to rump. Underparts barred and throat warm buff. Tail long and barred, making it look rather shrikelike in flight. Bill short and pointed. Twists neck round and often raises crown feathers. Sexes alike.

Common Pochard

A stocky, medium-sized, dome-headed diving duck. The male has a distinctive brick-red head and neck, grey body, black breast and stern and a fairly large
black bill with a broad grey band. The female is browner with paler cheeks and flanks. Both show black bordered grey wing-bars in fast, whirring flight.


Small duck with large grey bill. Male has dramatic white eyebrows on a brown head and pearlygrey flanks contrasting with the brown breast and spotted brown stern. Displays silvery-blue forewings in flight. Female similar to Common Teal, mottled brownish but with distinct eyestripes and pale supercilia, loral and chin  spots and larger bill. A fast and agile flyer. Habits: Gregarious and very social, mixing with other species.

Northern Pintail

A slender duck with a pointed tail. Male: greyish above; chocolate-brown head and upper neck; thin white stripe up neck side; bronze-green speculum. Female:
mottled buff-brown; pointed tail lacks longer tailpins; whitish belly. Non-breeding male like female, but mantle greyish. In flight, pointed tail between feet  distinctive. Highly gregarious; extremely common on vegetation-covered jheels; males often in separate flocks, especially on arrival in winter grounds; crepuscular and nocturnal; characteristic hissing swish of wings as flock flies over.