· A small, relatively short-billed sandpiper, with a reddish-brown or blackish breast in the breeding season.
o ‘Many immature avocets spend their first summer after fledging well south of breeding areas, as do immature grey plovers, bar-tailed godwits and knot.’
o ‘The Humber Estuary supports more than 150,000 birds each year including knot, lapwing, golden plover and breeding little terns.’
Telling winter waders apart can be daunting. Success in this (and if you are keen to find rarer species) is not difficult, provided you are familiar with two key species: Knot and Dunlin. This guide tackles these two ‘confusing calidrids’, familiarity with these is essential in order to gain experience and confidence identifying the apparently bewildering range of waders on our coasts in autumn and winter.
The knot is a dumpy, short-legged, stocky wading bird. In winter, It is grey above and white below; in summer the chest, belly and face are brick-red.
Where to see them
Large muddy estuaries around the coast. Greatest numbers are found on The Wash, Morecambe Bay, Thames, Humber and Dee estuaries, the Solway Firth and Strangford Lough.
When to see them
Around UK coasts between August and May. Largest numbers can be seen at high tide roosts between December and March.
Calidris canutus (L.), L.
This long-distance traveller is a medium-sized wading bird that frequents sheltered estuaries in the winter months. Where they are abundant, they often form very large flocks which wheel around in spectacular formations. The only site where this can be seen in Northern Ireland is Strangford Lough.
The knot’s main station in Northern Ireland is Strangford Lough
They feed on extensive estuarine mud flats and roost on rocks above the high-tide mark.
They are best seen between November and March
They breed in the high Arctic
The knot is an Amber species in both UK and Irish Birds of Conservation Concern lists.
Knots are medium-sized wading birds, with a relatively short beak and legs when compared to some other waders.