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Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) & Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) 4-9-14 | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) & Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) 4-9-14

Ruff

Philomachus pugnax

Rufachán

 

Fighting Ruff, Oxen-and-Kine, Reeve (female)

 

Status: Scarce spring & autumn passage migrant - occurs while moving from Siberia/Central Europe south to winter in Africa.

 

Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Declining, due to a moderate recent decline.

 

Identification: Though a distinctive wader, with a large body, smallish head, long neck and pointed, slightly decurved bill, individual Ruffs vary enormously in size and colour. Firstly males are approximately one third bigger than females (which are known as Reeves) - males being slightly larger than Redshank, while females are close to Dunlin-sized. Leg colour can be yellow, dull greenish yellow, orange or red. Bill can be all dark or show varying amounts of red or orange - often there is a white area of feathering around the base of the bill. Though males in full summer plumage are rarely seen in Ireland, this too is highly variable - the flamboyant ruff collar of chestnut red or black or even white is purely for display at the breeding ground. Occasionally, spring birds on passage may show a hint of these exotic colours, but the most usual plumage of birds seen here is of darkish brown wing and back feathers, each finely edged pale buff, creating a scaly effect, while the underparts are rather plain whitish, with a warm buff or creamy wash. In flight, a slow, almost floppy wingbeat is characteristic and the dark-centred rump with white ovals either side is a helpful identification feature. Not common, but can occur in small flocks in marshes, fields and mudflats - mainly spring and autumn.

 

Call: Almost silent.

 

Diet: Feeds on Invertebrates found in mudflats.

 

Breeding: Does not breed in Ireland. Passage birds seen in Ireland breed in meadows and bogs in Scandinavia and Russia.

 

Wintering: Small numbers winter on estuaries along the southern coast of Ireland. The majority of the European population winters around the Mediterranean and western Africa.

 

Where to see: Tacumshin & Lady's Island Lake (County Wexford), Malahide Estuary (County Dublin), Dundalk Docks (County Louth). Other sites for small numbers include Ballycotton (County Cork) and Kilcoole (County Wicklow) are the most regular sites.

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Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea

Gobadán crotaigh

 

Status: Scarce passage migrant - occurs while on passage from northern Siberia south to winter in Africa between August & October.

 

Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been assessed as Not Evaluated as it is primarily a passage migrant in the region.

 

Identification: An autumn passage migrant, rarely seen in Ireland outside August to October. A little larger than the similar Dunlin, and most easily distinguished by its longer legs, longer decurved bill and much cleaner underparts. Almost all Curlew Sandpipers occurring here are juveniles, which show a clean white belly, warm peachy tones on the breast and pale-fringed wing feathers giving a scaly effect to the upperwing. Occurs in very small groups or singly, in coastal marshes and estuaries, usually with Dunlin.

 

Similar Species: Dunlin

 

Call: Trilling or jingling 'chirrup'.

 

Diet: Feeds on invertebrates found on mudflats.

 

Breeding: Does not breed in Ireland. Passage birds seen in Ireland breed on the tundra in northern Siberia.

 

Wintering: Scarce winter visitor to Ireland. The majority of the European population winters in the Mediterranean and tropical Africa.

 

Where to see: Estuaries such as the North Bull in County Dublin, Tacumshin in County Wexford and Ballycotton in County Cork are reliable sites to see Curlew Sandpipers.

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Taken on September 6, 2014