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Spotted Redshank

Small numbers visit Poole Harbour and Christchurch Harbour each winter.

Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

The spotted redshank is much less common in Dorset than its close cousin the common redshank; it is, perhaps, a more mobile species travelling from the Arctic to winter here whereas the common redshank is more local. I confess that I find it impossible to tell the two species apart as to me they are so similar but then I possibly lack the eye for detail that others have. The spotted redshank is the slightly larger one of the two and has greyer plumage which then shows up a dark eye stripe but they both have the distinctive red legs of course.

The weekly reports chart shows clearly that this is a winter visitor to Dorset with no records between week 20 and week 26 and so it is not seen June and early July and the weeks either side of this have very few records and so it is not until week 34 in late August that they start to appear on a more regular basis. The picture over the winter months is somewhat erratic and that may indicate that more are seen in some years than others and also that they are quite mobile and will stay over somewhere for a while and then move on. Reports are certainly at there highest in September during autumn migration so many birds seen then are probably passage migrants. With the spotted redshank I think we see many reports of a few birds rather than few reports of many birds.

In the first two years of the Nature of Dorset database there are reports of spotted redshank from just eighteen sites and twelve of those sites are in Poole Harbour. There are also much less frequent reports from four locations around Christchurch harbour. This obviously reflects their preferred feeding habitat of mudflats at low tide, much like the common redshank.

Adding spotted redshank to your Dorset list should not be too great a challenge but it is one of those species where you need to watch the news for regular sightings and then, having brushed up on the identification features with a good field guide, head off to where one is being regularly seen.



Common Name Spotted Redshank
Scientific Name Tringa erythropus
Species Group Birds Sandpipers
Status Occasional
Interest Level
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
Look for

A greyer coloured redshank

Identification Notes
  • Slightly larger than the common redshank, greyer in colour with a dark eye stripe
  • Far less common that the common redshank and more solitary
  • A an autumn and winter visitor to areas of mudflats around Poole and Christchurch harbours 
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