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Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Tringa erythropus | [UK] Spotted Redshank | [FR] Chevalier arlequin | [DE] Dunkelwasserläufer | [ES] Archibebe oscuro | [IT] Totano moro | [NL] Zwarte Ruiter


spanwidth min.: 48 cm

spanwidth max.: 52 cm

size min.: 29 cm

size max.: 32 cm


incubation min.: 23 days

incubation max.: 24 days

fledging min.: 0 days

fledging max.: 0 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 4


Tringa erythropus


Cosdeargán breac


Status: Passage migrant in variable numbers to all Irish coasts from July to November. Scarce winter visitor mainly to the south and east coast.


Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Decling, due to a moderate recent decline.


Identification: Slightly larger and very similar to Redshank, especially in winter plumage. In all plumages has a distinctive bill pattern, where the upper mandible is entirely black and the lower mandible red. Adult summer Spotted Redshanks are very distinctive, being almost entirely black. Only the underwing remains white, while the rump is distinctly barred. Spotted Redshanks retain this plumage for only a few weeks and it is only infrequently seen in Ireland. Adult winter birds are much paler in comparison to Redshank, having a pale grey back and white underparts. Juveniles have dark brown barred underparts and back.


Similar Species: Redshank, Greenshank


Call: The main call is “chu-it” heard from birds in flight.


Diet: Hunts for fry, crabs and macro-invertebrates on muddy shores of estuaries and freshwater ponds.


Breeding: Does not breed in Ireland. Spotted Redshank breeds in bogs and marshes of northern Scandinavia east across Siberia.


Wintering: The majority of the European population winters in tropical Africa and Asia. On their migration, they can be regularly seen feeding with Common Redshanks on estuaries and muddy margins of ponds and lakes. Most sightings are of juveniles in autumn, with only a few summer-plumaged adults seen in spring. A few (<100) spend the winter, mainly on estuaries on the south coast.


Where to see: Good sites to see Spotted Redshanks are North Slob (autumn and winter), and Tacumshin in County Wexford, as well as Ballycotton and Clonakilty estuaries in County Cork.


Physical characteristics


Big and elegant wader, with long neck, legs and bill. Entirely black, with white dots on upperparts, and often variable amounts of whitish on underparts, in flight shows white wedge on back and white underwing. Female slightly larger and generally paler, with white tips on crown feathers and more white fringes on underparts. Non-breeding adult has contrasting dark eye stripe and white supercilium, ash grey upperparts with white fringes, plain grey breast and white underparts. Rather similar to T. totanus, but has longer darker red legs. Longer, finer bill, lower mandible basally red. White above lores. Juvenile darker than non-breeding adult.




Open wooded tundra, swampy pine or birch forest near tree-line, and also more open areas such as heathland and shrub tundra. After breeding, occurs in variety of freshwater or brackish wetlands, including sewage farms, irrigated rice fields, brackish lagoons, salt-marshes, salt-pans and sheltered muddy shores along coast


Other details


This bird inhabits taiga and scrub tundra in northern Eurasia, from the north of Scandinavia and Finland to eastern Siberia. European populations winter mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, north of the Equator. Small numbers stay in the Mediterranean regions and Western Europe however. The total European population, Russia included, is estimated at 27000-47000 breeding pairs




Mainly aquatic insects, terrestrial flying insects, small crustaceans, molluscs, worms, fish and amphibians. When feeding on fish, may forage socially in dense flock of conspecifics or mixed with other tringines, moving erratically while pecking at prey or running synchronously in one direction, while each bird sweeps bill through water. Often found in water, and occasionally swims while feeding in deep water, may immerse head and neck completely. Pecks, probes, jabs or sweeps bill through water from side to side. Mostly in small flocks, sometimes singly. Diurnal and nocturnal feeder.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 120,000-360,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




Egg laying from April to May. pair bond is monogamous, apparently sometimes polyandrous.Nest is usually built in grass tussocks or moss, sparsely lined with plant material. 4 eggs are laid, incubation period unknown. Chick pale drab grey finely marked with fuscous black above, dark cap and dirty white on chin and belly. Most females leave before eggs hatch.




Migratory. Overall winter range extends from western Europe and West Africa to Vietnam and south-east China; reached by broad-front overland movements, though important passage concentrations also occur along western seaboard. European migration characterized by long, continuous flights between staging areas, so that over large regions seen only in low numbers which do not reflect true scale of movement. Adult females form flocks and leave breeding grounds while males incubating (about 10 June in Finland) and reach Denmark and Waddenzee by mid-June. males and juveniles follow in second half July and August. Early birds reach West Africa August-September, but main arrivals in October. Sénégal wintering areas vacated in March; return movement through Europe in April and May. First birds consistently reach Finland about 4 May (× 4 days), and immigration proceeds rapidly, reaching even northern Gulf of Bothnia within a few days. A few non-breeders summer in Africa, but others return to Europe and remain in flocks south of breeding latitudes


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Taken on October 9, 2015