sparse winter visitor

Black-headed Gull

Sexes alike. Winter, when in India, greyish-white plumage; dark ear patches; white outer flight feathers, with black tips. Summer breeding: coffee-brown head and upper neck, sometimes acquired just before migration. The Brown-headed Gull C. brunnicephalus is larger and has white patches (mirrors) on black wing-tips. Highly gregarious; large flocks on sea coasts, scavenges in harbours; wheels over busy seaside roads or beaches; large numbers rest on rocky ground and sand; follow boats in harbours.

Little Ringed Plover

Sexes alike. Sandy-brown above; white forehead; black bands on head and breast and white neck-ring diagnostic; white chin and throat; lack of wing bar in flight and yellow legs and ring around eye additional clues. Small numbers, often along with other shorebirds; runs on ground, on mud and drying jheels, walks with characteristic bobbing gait, picking food from ground; when approached close, flies rapidly, low over ground, zigzag flight accompanied by a whistling note.

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.

Common Greenshank

Sexes alike. Grey-brown above; long, slightly upcurved, blackish beak; white forehead and underbody; in flight, white lower back, rump and absence of white
in wings diagnostic; long, greenish legs. In summer, darker above, with blackish centres to feathers. The Marsh Sandpiper T. stagnatilis is very similar but smaller and has distinctly longer legs; also has distinctive call. Either solitary or small groups of two to six birds, often with Common Redshanks and other waders; feeds at edge of water but may enter water to belly level.

Common Redshank

Sexes alike. Grey-brown above; whitish below, faintly marked about breast; white rump, broad band along trailing edge of wings; orange-red legs and base of beak. In summer, browner above, marked black and fulvous, and more heavily streaked below. The Spotted Redshank T. erythropus is very similar but has red at base of only the lower mandible. Small flocks, often with other waders; makes short dashes, probing and jabbing deep in mud; may also enter water, with long legs completely submerged; a rather alert and suspicious bird.

Black-tailed Godwit

Sexes alike. Female slightly larger than male. Grey-brown above; whitish below; very long, straight beak; in flight, broad, white wing-bars, white
rump and black tail-tip distinctive. In summer, dull rufous-red on head, neck and breast, with close-barred lower breast and flanks. The Bar-tailed Godwit
L. lapponica has a slightly upcurved beak; in flight, lack of white wing-bars and barred black and white tail help identification. Gregarious, often with other large waders; quite active, probing with long beak; wades in water, the long legs often barely visible; fast and graceful, low flight.

Common Snipe

Sexes alike. Cryptic-coloured marsh bird, brownish-buff, heavily streaked and marked buff, rufous and black; dull white below. Fast, erratic flight; 14 or 16 tail
feathers; whitish wing-lining distinctive, but not easily seen. The Pintail Snipe G. stenura is very similar and usually distinguished only when held in the hand and with considerable experience in observation. Usually several in dense marsh growth; very difficult to see unless flushed; probes with long beak in mud, often in shallow water; feeds mostly during mornings and evenings, often continuing through the night.