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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

26 February, 2014

Greenshank: the nebulous plover

A slightly up-turned, greenish, probing beak and pale green legs are good guides to identification here. The greenshank (Tringa nebularia) is aptly named. I think it is a very elegant bird and it is one of my favourite waders. It is a relative of the redshank, similar in size but paler and mottled, in fact it is a fairly nebulous bird so perhaps that where 'nebularia' comes
It is far less common than its cousin too. Some years we get hardly any, other years quite a few. Indeed, there were ten in front of the hide on Brownsea when we were there recently. It is also interesting for a wader in that it will catch small fish and crustaceans whereas most waders only probe the mud for food.

The greenshank breeds in northern Europe and Asia on dry moorland and in boggy areas in the Arctic tundra. However, its winter migration destinations can vary from the the south coast of England to the south coast of Africa! Why some travel so far and others stay nearer home is a mystery. It probably does explain why the numbers we see in Dorset vary each year.

Around Poole harbour is undoubtedly the most likely place to find them and smaller number crop up in Christchurch harbour.
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