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Length 20-21 cm, mass 41-102 g. A relatively small wader with a straight, stubby, black bill and a dark carpal ("shoulder") patch. Upper parts are pale grey above and under parts white. The legs are black and of medium length.
Breeds in the far-northern Holarctic (concentrations in Canada, Greenland and Siberia); non-breeding range is worldwide(for example, a bird breeding in Greenland may winter anywhere from northern Europe to South Africa). A migrant (spring, summer, and fall) and winter visitor to Britain.
Nesting habitat is rocky tundra, while coasts and especially sandy beaches are used the rest of the year.
Forages in flocks on beaches, usually in moist sand. The diet includes crustaceans, small marine worms, insects, fish and molluscs.
3-4 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. Some females lay one clutch which is then attended by both parents; others lay one clutch which they leave for the male to attend and shortly after a second clutch which is only attended by the female.
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