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Tringa totanus

A wading bird which spends the winter on the Solent, after a summer breeding season on in the north west of the UK or Iceland.

All about redshank

Shank is an old term for legs, or more especially the part from the knee to the ankle, so these birds, with their  bright red-orange limbs are aptly named. They use their reddish beak to find food on muddy, rocky or sandy shores. They eat molluscs and you might even see them jabbing their beaks into the water to catch small fish. When flying their wings are a good feature to look out for, since they have white edges which are easy to spot.

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. They have a high-pitched short whistling call which they repeat over and over again.

Local spotlight

They are commonly seen on muddy Solent shores by birders but they can be harder to pick out for less experienced eyes as their feathers blend in with the brown mud. There are over 2000 in the Solent during the winter months.

Conservation status

They are amber listed in the UK and a qualifying feature for the Chichester and Langstone Harbours Special Protection Area – that means, when the site was designated, a nationally significant number used these coastlines in the winter.

Find out more about the Special Protection Areas on the Solent.

Did you know?

Like some other waders, redshank tremble their feet to make the wet sand more fluid; this makes prey float to the surface.

Learn about the Solent’s other wading birds.