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33-36 cm. Black above, white below, white head and neck, long pink legs, long thin black bill.
 European population
Breeds irregularly in scattered localities in southern Europe but an opportunistic species that occasionally breeds far out of normal range or abandons long-established areas for no apparent reason. May not breed at all in dry years. Most regular areas are Iberia and western and southern France, Sardinia, Sicily and Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, the Ukraine and southern Russia, and in Mesopotamia. Also breeds on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, in parts of the Middle East and on the Cape Verde Islands. Has bred in Britain, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Poland, also in the Canary Islands.
 Vagrancy in Europe
Vagrant to most European countries north to Sweden, Finland and Estonia. Also recorded on the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands. In Britain several are now recorded annually and breeding has been attempted at least six times. Most of the c.300 records have occurred in the south-east and in April-May and August-September.
Areas of shallow water, fresh or brackish, with margins of sand or mud, but does not require vegetation to any extent. Usually on lagoons or in estuarine or delta areas.
Often loosely colonial when breeding.
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