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Little Stint

A migratory species that breeds in the Arctic and passes through Dorset in spring and summer.

Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

The little stint (Calidris minuta) is a passage migrant in Dorset; it is not resident and is not a regular winter visitor, it is seen only as it passes through the county on its way south in autumn from its breeding grounds in the Arctic or in spring on its way back. It is not a regular visitor either, its presence in the county each year is variable but, in general, it seems far more likely to be seen on autumn passage south rather than spring passage north. It is also more common on the east coast of Britain and only the odd bird strays as far west as Dorset. They are long distance migrants going down in to Africa for the European winter months.

This tendency to autumn appearances is verified by the Twitter reports contained in the Nature of Dorset database. Of the 104 reports for 2017 and 2018 only 1 is a spring record in May 2017. In general reports start in week 30 at the end of July and continue through until week 44 at the end of October. The bulk of reports are undoubtedly in September it seems with a good number of records in weeks 38 and 39.

The reports we have come from fourteen sites and the distribution map shows that these are mainly around Poole harbour, the Weymouth reserves and the Fleet with occasional records from Christchurch harbour too. The western end of Poole Harbour seems to suit them with Lytchett Bay having a good return.

Adding little stint to your Dorset list is going to take some determined action and will require a bit of luck too!



Common Name Little Stint
Scientific Name Calidris minuta
Species Group Birds Sandpipers
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 05 - May
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
Look for

A tiny wader smaller, even, than a sparrow

Identification Notes
  • The smallest wader likely to be seen in Dorset (apart from the rare Temminck's stint) 
  • An Arctic breeding species seen only here during the migration seasons, especially the autumn
  • It is though only 500 or so pass through Britain each year so it is not common!
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