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Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Rogerstown Harbour

Co.Dublin 29-08-2020


[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Calidris minuta | [UK] Little Stint | [FR] Bécasseau minute | [DE] Zwergstrandläufer | [ES] Correlimos Menudo | [IT] Gambecchio comune | [NL] Kleine Strandloper | [IRL] Gobadáinín beag


spanwidth min.: 27 cm

spanwidth max.: 30 cm

size min.: 14 cm

size max.: 15 cm


incubation min.: 20 days

incubation max.: 21 days

fledging min.: 0 days

fledging max.: 0 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 4


Little Sandpiper


Status: Scarce passage migrant - occurs while on passage from northern Scandinavia and Russia between August & October.


Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.


Identification: The smallest regularly occurring wader in Ireland, mostly seen on passage from August to October. It is roughly two-thirds the size of a Dunlin, with which it often associates. Its small size, rufous tones on the upperparts contrasting with a white underparts and agitated rapid feeding action all help to identify it. It has black legs and a small pointed bill. Most of the birds occurring here are juveniles, which show a distinctive white "V" on the back - visible as the bird bends to feed. Usually seen singly or in groups of less than five.


Similar Species: Dunlin


Call: Sharp, short, high-pitched 'stit' in flight. Song is a weak and repeated 'swee', with the occasional 'svirr-r-r'.


Diet: Feeds on invertebrates found on mudflats.


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


Wintering: Little Stints winter on the Mediterranean coast, as well as tropical Africa.


Where to see: Mid-Clare Coast (Mal Bay-Doonbeg Bay) in County Clare, Ballycotton and Shanagarry in County Cork, as well as Tacumshin in County Wexford are reliable sites. Very few records from November to July.



Physical characteristics


Tiny, stint with short bill, feathers of upperparts have dark brown cintres and pale rufous fringes or tips. Mantle with yellowish edges forming distinct "V". Head, neck and breast rufous buff with brown streaks, rest of underparts, throat and chin white. Female averages larger. Non-breeding adult has brownish grey upperparts mottled dark and fringed pale, crown gey, streaked dark, eyestripe and sides of breast dull grey, rest of face and underparts white.




Tundra, chiefly on dry ground, often among dwarf willows, near swampy areas or salt marshes. On migration found at small inland waters and riverbanks, or coastal, on mudflats and seashore. In winter quarters mainly coastal, at estuarine mudflats, enclosed lagoons, tidal creeks, also at inland fresh waters.


Other details


Calidris minuta breeds in the arctic north of Norway and Russia, with Europe accounting for less than half of its global breeding range. Although estimates of its European breeding population vary widely, it is probably relatively large (as many as 460,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were fluctuations in Norway during 1990-2000, the stronghold population in Russia was stable, and the species probably remained stable overall.




Feeds by rapid pecking actions, sometimes probes. Detects prey by sight. Gregarious, in small to large flocks, sometimes up to several thousand birds, and sometimes defends feeding territory.




Bredding in June-July. Monogamous, polygynous or polyandrous. Little or no fidelity to breeding site. Nest on ground, exposed, but sometimes covered by vegetation, and lined with leaves and pieces of grass. 4 eggs, incubation 21 days, by both parents, but in cases of polygamy by male or female only. Polyandrous females may incubate a second clutch. Chick orange to tawny, mottled above with black bands and dense rows of white or pale down tips, white underparts. Chic care by one parent.




Migratory; in broad front across much of W Palearctic; movements S-SW in Jul-Nov, birds returning mid-May to early Jun. Juveniles probably migrate farther W than adults, due to weather displacement. Finnish and Swedish population crosses C Europe, Italy, Mediterranean, France and Tunisia; also major routes between C Mediterranean and Black Sea, and via Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan lakes to and from E & S Africa, apparently following route via Rift Valley lakes; W & C Siberian breeders presumably winter in India, passing through Kazakhstan and also N through Mongolia and Tuva. In Britain, commoner in autumn than in spring, with few birds passing winter. Small numbers may migrate along E Asian coasts, including Hong Kong and Philippines. Many immatures remain S all year. Typical migrating flocks comprise 20-30 birds.


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Taken on August 29, 2020