Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola



This species is smaller than the Redshank; its bill is straight and there's a distinctive white stripe that begins at the bill, goes over the eye and to the back of the neck. The back is decorated in brownish and white patches, the neck is quite slender, the bill narrow, and legs are always yellowish. The head, neck and underparts are pale and streaked. During winter and autumn, the back becomes more grey-brown overall. Juveniles are similar to summer adults, but they have buff spots on the back and the breast is mottled. When flying, the rump is square and white, the underwing is light greyish, tail is barred and the feet trail; there are no wing-bars.


Scotland is the prime location for breeding birds of the region, particularly in wooded country in the far north, on the edges of marshes and swamps. At other times of year is prefers freshwater habitats such as lakes, reservoirs, flooded grasslands, but is occasionally found at brackish pools close to the coast.


This is nimble flier who can get to heights at sharp angles; usually seen alone, or in groups of three or four. Can be quite loud when migrating, and has a way of bobbing when something has caught its interest. During spring, it has a rolling display flight which it performs over its breeding territories.


Diet includes beetles, flies and the larvae of dragonflies, caddis flies, mayflies and moths, worms, spiders, shellfish and small fish.


Female usually lays 4 eggs, which both adults incubate for about 22-23 days. Hatchlings can feed themselves and are able to fly after approximately 30 days; female usually departs a few days after eggs have hatched, leaving male to tend to the young.


This species is primarily known as a passage migrant, though about 18-21 pairs nest in Scotland each year. The number of adults in the region is highest in August, while juveniles usually arrive in September.

Observation Tips

Most prevalent in August and September, though they can be quite easy to miss if feeding in the margins of swamps and margins.


Has a 'chiff-chiff-chiff' call usually uttered during flight.
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