Belongs to: winter waders

Compare with: curlew sandpiper

Dunlin Calidris alpina

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: Sep to May

Key facts

Most widespread and abundant small wader, found on estuaries in winter

Form enormous flocks that, in flight, behave like wisps of smoke blown by the wind

Winter visitor to Essex and S. Britain, breeding on moorland in N. Britain


In winter, pale grey above, white below, medium black bill; 17–18 cm

Feeds busily in hunched-up posture, eating crustaceans and molluscs

In flight shows white wingbar; flocks fly low over the water, sweeping upwards together, then showering down again

© Alan Williams