How to identify

The Purple Sandpiper is a medium-sized wading bird that is larger, stockier and darker than a Dunlin. It is mainly dark grey above and whitish below. It has a downcurved beak and bright orange legs. In flight, it shows a 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 rare south of Yorkshire, except in Devon and Cornwall. The breeding areas in Scotland are kept secret to protect the birds from egg thieves and disturbance. It is listed on Schedule 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.


  1. Resident
  2. Passage
  3. Summer
  4. Winter
* This map is intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

Key facts

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