Range & Status
Lapland and Siberia; in Britain and Ireland 65,400 in winter (declining).
Cornwall: winter visitor and passage migrant. Numbers have declined since the late 1970s, although periodic influxes can occur to boost numbers both on passage and midwinter. The Camel estuary has always held the highest numbers (100+ in the 1960s and 70s) with St. John' s Lake, the Lynher and Hayle recording 50-70. However, by the early 1990s, totals for the whole of Cornwall rarely exceeded 100 birds. Isles of Scilly: small numbers on passage.
Habitat & Ecology
Feeds in small flocks over sandy tidal flats, or firm mud.
Vulnerable to disturbance; numbers using St. John' s Lake have drastically declined since the 1960s, perhaps partly due to increasing disturbance from bait-digging activities. However, as the decline has affected the whole of Cornwall, a general switch of winter sites in the population is perhaps the most plausible solution.
The main sites are SSSI. Protected under Annexe 11/2 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).