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Usually seen during migation times bit also over winter in very small numbers in Dorset

Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

I would describe the knot (Calidris canutus) in Dorset as an 'in between' species; it is certainly not common but could hardly be described as rare. Knot breed in the Arctic and are renowned long-distance migrants some travelling to the far south but they do so in hops by flying a considerable distance and then dropping in at a favourable stop-over point where they rest and feed for a few days before moving on. It is generally these stop-over birds we see here in Dorset. Good numbers stay the winter on the eastern England coastal marshes but very few stay the complete winter with us here.

The weekly reports chart shows this pattern quite well. There are usually no reports during June and then a few in July and August as the early leavers start to pass through. The reports peak from week 35 until week 40 during September and in to early October and then after that there are just a record or two most weeks until the following May. There are far less seen during the spring migration but reports to increase during late April and early May.

As one would expect with a wader species they are seen almost exclusively in coastal locations where there are mudflats or sandy areas exposed at low tide. This means Ferrybridge, Lytchett Bay and Abbotsbury seem to be popular and a few turn up on the lagoon on Brownsea. They are sparsely reported from elsewhere.

As they often stay for a few days before moving on your best chance of adding knot to your Dorset list is to watch for news of one/some arriving and be ready to act quickly.



Common Name Knot
Scientific Name Calidris canutus
Species Group Birds Sandpipers
Status Restricted
Interest Level
  • 05 - May
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
Look for

A large dunlin!

Identification Notes
  • Seen in small numbers in Dorset during migration times but can be seen in any month out of the breeding season
  • A real challenge to the inexperienced bird watcher as they do not havy stand out features
  • The are closely related to dunlin and often associate with them and look like a bigger version! 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Sandpipers