Sandpipers, Snipe & Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)
This is a highly diverse family, varying in size from large to really small birds. Most are brown above and white below, with variable amounts of streaking. Breeding plumage tends to be be more brightly coloured. They have long legs, and most have long bills that are used to probe in soft mud. They occupy a wide range of wetland habitats, though mud flats and estuaries hold the largest concentrations. Most are gregarious, and huge flocks can occur at favoured winter feeding grounds. On the other hand some species are solitary and never frequent estuaries at all. Many species perform huge migrations, literally from one end of the earth to the other, and breed among the high arctic tundras far north as ice-free land exists.
There are ninety-three species worldwide. Twenty-five species breed in Europe, four are regular passage migrants and many others are scarce migrants or vagrants.
Species seen but not photographed:
  • Pectoral Sandpiper: Norfolk (August 2005)
  • Purple Sandpiper: Isles of Scilly (April 1997)
  • Spotted Redshank: Norfolk (June 2012)
  • White-rumped Sandpiper: Oxon (October 2005)
  • Wood Sandpiper: France (May 2013)