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Length 23â€“26 cm, wingspan 47â€“53 cm, weight 85â€“220 g
Brick-red to orangey-chestnut head and breast; black, orange and grey spangled upperparts, white under-tail coverts and grey wings with a light bar and dark tips
Winter adult, presumed C. c. islandica by location & date Photo by IanF Hartlepool, Cleveland, UK; 5 April 2008
Reddish parts become plain grey above and white below; pale grey rump obvious in flight Juvenile
Similar to adult winter, but upperpart feathers fringed with narrow dark inner and pale outer fringes, giving a scalloped pattern Subadult
Similar to adult winter; one-year-old birds do not develop summer plumage, and typically remain on the wintering grounds through their first summer
The subspecies differ slightly in size (C. c. piersmai smallest, C. c. roselaari largest), and in the intensity of the summer plumage colours. They cannot be separated in winter or juvenile plumages; their wintering ranges are known from ringing studies. In Britain, two subspecies occur, but at different times of year, with C. c. canutus on passage in late summer and late spring, and C. c. islandica wintering from late autumn until early spring.
C. c. piersmai, pre-breeding adult Photo by Dave Irving Watzuwei Nature Reserve, Taiwan; 13 May 2013
C. c. rogersi, adults moulting into summer plumage Photo by flossiepip Waipu, Northland, New Zealand; 8 March 2013
C. c. rufa, pre-breeding adult Photo by bobsofpa Bunche Beach Preserve, Ft Myers Beach, Florida, USA; 4 May 2015
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.