At this time of year huge numbers of wading birds descend on our shores in Britain to spend the winter months. They come in their thousands, none more so than the Knot. At least 300,000 of these birds are thought to over-winter here and a visit to any of our major estuaries will get you views of this lovely little wader. The photo above shows a small flock of these birds, although there are other species mixed in, can you spot them? (click on the photo to make it bigger)
Knot breed in the Arctic and those that we see in Britain and Ireland mostly breed in Arctic Canada. They arrive in August and then start to make they way back in May. The oldest Knot survived for over 16 years. A useless piece of information is, that they are supposed to be named after King Canute (or Knut to give him his proper name), he of the turning back the tides fame, because of their tendency to be seen on the shoreline. Other birds are to be seen on the shore, so I don`t really know why the Knot was chosen?
Another bird that arrives on our shores is the humble Dunlin. These birds do breed in Britain, some 9,500 pairs, but birds from Iceland, northern Europe and Russia arrive in the autumn to spend the winter in slightly warmer climes. These birds bring the wintering population to over 700,000 individuals.
A visit to any estuary during our colder months will give you fantastic views of large numbers of differing species, a very highly recommended day out. Go at high tide to give the best chance of close views, but when you are looking at flocks of several thousand, you don`t need to be too close to witness this spectacle of nature.