RSPB
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Conservation status: Amber

The purple sandpiper is a medium-sized wading birds that is larger, stockier and darker than a dunlin. It is mainly dark grey above and whitish below. It has a downcurved beak and short bright orange legs. In flight it shows a thin white wing-stripe. A couple of pairs nest in Scotland, but this species is mainly a winter visitor to almost any rocky coast in the UK. Most are found in Orkney, Shetland and along the east coast of Scotland and northern England - it is scarce south of Yorkshire, other than Devon and Cornwall. The breeding areas in Scotland are kept secret to protect the birds from egg thieves and disturbance.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Calidris maritima

Family

Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

Around the coast, particularly on the east coast north of the Humber. A good place to look can be around piers and groynes, and also on stony beaches and mussel beds at low tide.

When to see them

Winter

What they eat

Winkles, insects, spiders, crustaceans, and plants

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-1-3 pairs13,000 birds-

Distribution

Key

Similar birds