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Conservation status: Introduced

This Arctic-breeding wader sometimes comes to the coasts of the UK after storms. They are most often seen at the coast; around 200 birds per year are seen. Like the other phalarope species, the female is the more colourful and leaves the male to incubate the eggs and bring up the young. In North America, these birds are known as red phalaropes, due to the birds' orangey-red breeding plumage.



Latin name

Phalaropus fulicarius


Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

Grey phalaropes spend a large proportion of their lives out at sea, many miles from land. Birds that turn up in the UK - largely around the coast but occasionally at wetlands inland - have been blown off-course by bad weather and strong winds.

When to see them

Most often seen between October and January.

What they eat

In winter, eats marine plankton picked from the sea's surface. On breeding grounds, grey phalaropes eat small insects and aquatic creatures.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*