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Golden plovers roosting on the saltmarsh

Wading birds

Often referred to as waders, huge numbers of these birds arrive on our Solent coastline in the autumn and spend the winter with us before migrating back up to the Arctic in the spring. They are usually seen on the water’s edge, wading (as their name suggests) into the shallow waters with their long legs and searching with their beaks for animals who live in the mud and sand below.

Avocet walking through the water

Avocet

Easily recognised by their upturned bills which they use to feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and worms by sweeping them side-to-side through the water.

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Bar-tailed godwit

You will see bar-tailed godwits in large, often noisy, flocks. They feed by making fast probing movements in the mud: sometimes it looks like they don’t stop walking while they feed.

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Black-tailed godwit

Thousands of these wading birds spend the winter on the Solent coast, making it an area of both international and national importance for this red listed species.

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Curlew

We are a common winter visitor to the Solent, there are around 2000 of us at any one time. Winter numbers are relatively stable, however, our breeding numbers are declining.

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Dunlin

A small wading bird which comes to the Solent to spend the winter every year from Scandinavia and Russia. Other dunlin just pass through during their spring and autumn migrations, using the Solent coast as a pit-stop to rest and refuel.

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Golden plover on a rock by the sea

Golden plover

Golden plover can be found all around the Solent during the winter, especially around the Newtown and Yar estuaries on the Isle of Wight, Chichester and Langstone Harbours, Southampton Water and the northwest Solent.

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Greenshank

Greenshank

Greenshank are a less common relative of the redshank but with grey-green legs instead of red. They appear taller than their more common cousin with long slender legs and they have a dark grey back and a slightly upturned bill.

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Grey plover

In winter my plumage is rather dull and grey, but in summer I am rather splendid with black and silver spangled wings and a black front all the way Grey plover summer from my face to my tail.

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Knot walking in the water

Knot

In winter my coat is grey and white which is a huge change from my brick red summer coat. My head is quite small compared to my body size.

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Lapwing

Lapwing

With their emerald and purple iridescent feathers and stylish crest, lapwing stand out among their fellow waders. Despite its red list status, it’s still – just – the most numerous breeding wader in the UK, with estimates at almost 100k pairs, just ahead of the oystercatcher. 

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Oystercatcher on the sand

Oystercatcher

With their striking black and white plumage, reddish-pink legs and their remarkable carrot-like bills, oystercatcher are hard to miss, so are a great species to look out for if you’re a beginner birdwatcher.

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Redshank

Redshank are known as the ‘warden of the marshes’ because they’re often the first and one of the loudest birds to warn other species when there is a predator about.

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Ringed plover

Ringed plover

My feathers are a light brown on top which means I am very well camouflaged from aerial predators, this also means I’m hard for people to spot, watch out for me please. I’m much smaller than other plovers like the Grey Plover and the Lapwing.

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Sanderling

You can find me scampering amongst the waves looking for marine worms, fish and even tiny jellyfish. I am silvery and white, so you can spot me twinkling along the beach, but watch out as I can just look like sea foam!

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Turnstone

At high tide you will see turnstone roosting on harbour walls, jetties and boats. They are resting up and waiting for the tide to go back out so they can carry on looking for food.

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