Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

30-33cm

Appearance

This wader is bigger than the Redshank with greyer plumage; its bill has a slightly upward curve and is greyish at the base, and its legs are greenish all year round. The sexes are similar though plumage alters slightly over the year. Summer adults are mostly grey-brown above, and many of their back feathers are dark with pale tips. They are pale below with dark streaks on the head, neck and breast. Winter birds are more grey overall on the upperparts and white underneath. Juveniles resemble winter adults but they are darker and more brown above. When flying, the wings are grey with no wing-bars, the rump and tail are white, and there's a white 'V' shape on the back.

Habitat

The north of Scotland is a favoured breeding area in the region, particularly where there are blanket bogs. At other times of the year, tends towards the margins of lakes, rivers and reservoirs and also estuaries and coastal marshes.

Character

Usually seen alone, but may travel in smaller flocks; flight is fast with sudden twists and turns. Probes mud with its bill or sweeps it through water. May overlook breeding territories from a post or tree; has a songflight involving aerial rolls and tumbles, often appearing as if it is plummeting to the ground.

Food

Summer diet includes beetles, worms, snails, dragonfly nymphs and small fish, amphibians such as newts and some plant material. While in coastal environments, feeds on shrimp, crabs, ragworms and small fish.

Breeding

The male makes multiple nest-scrapes in April, and the female allocates one of them; she usually lays 4 eggs which both adults incubate for 25-27 days. Hatchlings have a layer of down and can feed themselves; they can fly between 25 and 31 days, and the female often begins her migration before that point.

Population

Both a breeding bird and a passage migrant; the region receives birds from the north of Europe as they migrate to spend winter in southern Europe or North Africa. There are approximately 700-1500 territories in Scotland; during winter, there are about 700 individuals in the UK and 1000 in Ireland, with numbers growing in the autumn.

Observation Tips

Best observation occurs when the birds are not breeding, particularly around the coast where majority of passage birds visit. The population peaks in the autumn, but estuaries in the bottom half of the region are promising locations to check during winter.

Voice

Has a reverberating 'tchu-tchu-tchu', often uttered in flight, and a melodic 'ru-tu, ru-tu, ru-tu' during spring.
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