When to see
Dunlins are one of the most numerous waders on the bay over the winter months. They will start to arrive from their breeding grounds in August and will number 1000 or more by late autumn. They will start to leave again in March although their numbers can be boosted just before this with the arrival of several hundred that stop off for a short while on their migration through this area.
Where to see
Like most waders they will best be seen at low water. They will nearly always feed near the channels or where shallow water is still standing on the bay, and will often be spread quite widely across the centre area of the bay when feeding. Peregrine Falcons frequently hunt on the bay and this will cause the Dunlins to form tightly packed flocks as they fly around trying to evade the threat. At high water they sometimes roost on the edge of the bay, but they can also be found on the east dunes area and occasionally in springtime on the shingle spit at the mouth of the bay.
For most of the year the majority of Dunlin are seen in winter plumage with brownish grey upperparts and white underneath. In spring and in late summer when they arrive back the Dunlin can also be seen in summer breeding plumage. The upperparts become much brighter and a distinctive black belly patch develops. Different races of Dunlin can be seen – schinzii which breed in this part of Europe and alpina that breed in northern Scandinavia. There can be considerable variation in plumage both within and between these races.
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