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Length 23β26 cm (9-10ΒΌ in), wingspan 47β53 cm, weight 85β220 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
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.
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.