Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Dunlin
(Tang Snipe, Plover's Page, Black-Bellied Sandpiper, Black-Breast, Black-Breast Dunlin, Black-Heart Plover, Blackcrop, Brantbird, Red-Backed Sandpiper, Simpleton, Stib, Winter Snipe, Crooked-Bill Snipe, Fall Snipe, Lead-Bird, Little Black-Breast, Ox-Bird, Purre, Red-Back, Red-Backed Dunlin)
Gaelic: Gille-feadag, Gràilig
Photograph © Debbie Bozkurt
Balinvanich beach - Isle of Benbecula - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
30th September, 2006
Our Dunlin photographs
- Dunlin (Tang Snipe, Plover's Page, Black-Bellied Sandpiper, Black-Breast, Black-Breast Dunlin, Black-Heart Plover, Blackcrop, Brantbird, Crooked-Bill Snipe, Fall Snipe, Lead-Bird, Little Black-Breast, Ox-Bird, Purre, Red-Back, Red-Backed Dunlin, Red-Backed Sandpiper, Simpleton, Stib, Winter Snipe)
- Calidris alpina
- Gaelic: Gille-feadag, Gràilig
- UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
- UK: AMBER LIST. Breeding 9,150-9,900 pairs. Winter 577,100 birds
- WI: Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs), passage visitor (regulary seen in good numbers)
- Breeding: April - July. 4 eggs incubated by both parents. Male does most of care of chicks. Fledge at 3 weeks. Nest - shallow scrape on ground lined with vegetation. Damp grassy machair, tundra, boggy moorland, heath. Arctic or sub-Arctic. Europe, Siberia, N America
- Winter: Estuaries & coasts. Forms feeding flocks in winter, sometimes thousands of birds which roost on fields & saltmarshes by shore when the tide is in. South to S Asia, Africa, Mexico
- Wader approx Starling-sized. Stout. Fairly long, black bill usually slightly bending downwards (decurved). (Much variation in billl-length). Neat black belly-patch in summer. Sturdy black legs. Winter grey above & white below.
Juveniles brown above (whitish stripes form "V" shapes on back viewed from behind). Black marks on the flanks or belly. Strong white wingbar in flight.
Females have longer bills
- Diet: Foraging coastal mudflat beaches. Probing "sewing machine" action. Snails, invertebrates - insects, worms. (feeds young mostly insects)
- Max recorded age 28 yrs 1mth. Typical lifespan 5yrs
- Listen to a Dunlin (RSPB site) . Call "peep". Song is a harsh trill
- Similar birds: Knot, Little Stint (rare), Curlew Sandpiper (rare - see comparison photo)
The only Starling-sized wader that has a black belly in summer.
The most common wader on our beaches in Winter.
The name Plover's Page comes from occasional observations of a Dunlin following a Golden Plover, Greenshank or Dotterel, and echoing the bird's movements.
See a well-illustrated article on distinguishing between the autumn Dunlin and the Curlew Sandpiper.
Dunlin records in the Western Isles
There are a number of subspecies of Dunlin, which mainly differ in the amount of rufous coloration in the breeding plumage and the length of the bill and where in the world they breed.
There are three races of Dunlin which occur in the Western Isles.
Calidris alpina schinzii is a common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs), and passage visitor (regulary seen in good numbers).
This breeding population is of international importance.
Winters in West Africa.
Calidris alpina arctica is a fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers)
Breeding in Greenland, they pass through on their way to winter in Africa
Calidris alpina is a common winter visitor (regulary seen in good numbers)
Breeding in Western Siberia, they come here to winter
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Dunlin is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Collective nouns for Dunlin
Two or more Dunlin are called a fling.
There are reports from the Atlantic coasts of North America of possible hybrids between Dunlin and White-rumped Sandpiper and also Dunlin and Purple Sandpiper.
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section
Debbie's online photo album