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Length 23-26 cm
Mainly a passage migrant and winter visitor to the region. Main wintering areas are around the British Isles and on coasts from Denmark to Spain and the Atlantic coast of North-West Africa. Smaller numbers are found in the Mediterranean mainly on the coasts of Spain and Tunisia, southern Italy, Sicily and Greece. Common on passage in the Baltic and on North-West European coasts in Jul-Sep with smaller numbers again in May.
Wintering birds in Western Europe are mainly ssp islandica from breeding grounds in Arctic Canada, birds on passage include many canutus from North Siberia but the races cannot be separated in winter plumage. Subspecies rufa from Canada south of islandica has been reported from Britain.
There are six subspecies, in order of size;
Breeds in, sparsely vegetated foothills and high, rocky plateaux. On passage and in winter found on sandy and muddy shores, on wide estuaries and mudflats. Also on shingle beaches and sometimes on coastal grassland.
Three to four eggs are laid in a shallow lined scrape. They are incubated by both adults. The male tends the young until they fledge.
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