Range & Status
Holarctic; in Britain and Ireland there are 10-30 breeding pairs (chiefly Scotland); 28,000 winter.
Cornwall: pair bred on The Lizard in 1978, other sporadic breeding reports concern released birds. The only regular winter site is the Lynher estuary, with 30 - 40 birds in the 1990s, dwindling to less than ten by 2006; sporadic in appearance elsewhere. Formerly the Camel held 40 - 70 birds, but numbers dwindled in the 1970s, now irregular there. Isles of Scilly: annual on passage.
Habitat & Ecology
Feeds on the wide middle reaches of the estuary.
Vulnerable to disturbance of mudflats. The Lynher flock is the only regular flock west of the Exe.
The Lynher is part of the Tamar complex and has been promoted for SPA status; it is an SSSI. Protected under Schedule 1, Part 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 11/1 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).