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What am I?

A fairly common small sandpiper recognisable by a pale winter plumage, black legs and bill, and obsessive wave-chasing habits. Similar in size to a related dunlin but stouter with a round belly and a thicker, straighter bill. In summer, the upper body is scalloped with brown, buff, black and orange with white edging.

How to spot them

Sanderlings often roost in mixed flocks with dunlins, plovers and knots. They prefer sandy beaches and mudflats, and sometimes seek refuge on rocky shores and jetties. They are highly gregarious birds, especially in winter, and a missing hind toe gives them a distinctive clockwork like running style. In flight, sanderlings have a visible contrasting wing bar, broad and white with dark edging, and a dark shoulder.

Where to see them

Common along most of the Essex coastline in winter and on their passage during spring and autumn migrations

Conservation status


Did you know?

The common name, sanderling, derivers from Old English word for sand ploughman. The collective noun is a grain of sanderlings.

Sanderling bird