Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Spotted on migration near Penzance in the last few days.

Taxonomic name: Calidris ferruginea.

Green status.

Can be easily mistaken for a Dunlin, but it is a little more elegant and a bit more elongated, and in autumn it looks cleaner and paler with a pale grey body above and white below and a white stripe over the eye.

It has a longer, more down-curved black bill than a Dunlin. It has a beautiful chestnut, breeding plumage in the spring making a flock a very colourful sight. In flight it shows a bright white rump which is only copied by some other rarer waders and not by Dunlin.

Its length is about 18 – 23cm (7 – 9in) and a wingspan of about 38 – 41cm (15 – 16in).

This bird is a truly awesome migrant it travels from breeding sites in the far north of Siberia down to Africa where it spends our winter; for such a small bird that is an amazing feat. Flying approximately 15000 Kilometres (approx 10,000 miles).
They can be seen in western Europe and Britain at the end of the summer followed in the autumn by the juveniles coming through. Many bird watchers will spot them in company with Dunlin and Little Stint, in particular along the east coast and down to Cornwall.
The weather can have a major impact on how many come through Britain, if the weather is bad around the Baltic region then we get very large numbers flying through.
They are usually found feeding in salt-marshes or lagoons close to the coast.
 They use their long legs and longer bill to wade in deeper water than the Dunlin and probe about in the soft mud to find worms or snails or they can take insects like flies.

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Kevin ONeill


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