Dunlin - Calidris alpina


The commonest small wader found along the coast. It has a slightly down-curved bill and a distinctive black belly patch in breeding plumage. It feeds in flocks in winter, sometimes numbering thousands, roosting on nearby fields, saltmarshes and the shore when the tide is high. An adult Dunlin in its summer breeding plumage shows the distinctive black belly which no other similar-sized wader possesses. Most Dunlin in spring and autumn show signs of either the black belly or black spots on the flanks which are typical of juvenile plumage. The winter Dunlin is basically grey above and white below. Juveniles are brown above with two whitish "V" shapes on the back. They usually have black marks on the flanks or belly and show a strong white wingbar in flight. The legs and slightly decurved bill are black

Identification difficulty

Breeds on grassy moorland and peat bogs in the uplands of Scotland, Wales and England. Winters on estuaries, saltmarshes and sandy shores Found on all UK estuaries with largest numbers in winter. Occurs in small numbers on the muddy margins of inland lakes and reservoirs.

When to see it

All year round on the coast. On breeding grounds from April to July.

UK Status

Some 10,000 pairs breed in the UK with a wintering population of approximately 600,000.

VC55 Status

Common autumn passage migrant and winter visitor. Flocks of 200 or more recorded regularly at Rutland Water and Eyebrook Reservoir

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
31/08/2007 (J.A. Sharpe)
Last record:
06/03/2023 (Messenger, Nigel)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

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