One of the smallest wading bird species to visit British shores, the Temminck’s stint is now classed as a ‘former breeder’ in the UK, with breeding pairs no longer regularly observed. Passage migrants may still be seen, particularly on the eastern coast in May.
Temminck’s stints are small grey and white wading birds, which display different plumages at different times of year. Breeding adults have grey-olive brown upperparts, which may appear patchy and mottled with black, rusty and grey-brown. Their flanks and rump are white, and their grey-brown tail feathers are edged with white.
The throat, chin and bellow of a Temminck’s stint are white, and its breast, also white, is heavily streaked with dark brown. Its face is also streaky, with darker brown mottling on the crown. Its bill is dark grey, and its short legs are yellowish-grey.
The non-breeding adult has dark grey-brown upperparts and head, with a dull grey breast which is lighter at the centre than the edges. Their chin and throat are white, and a faint white ring can be seen around their black iris, on an otherwise light grey face. Male and female Temminck’s stints are alike in plumage in both summer and winter, although females are slightly larger overall than males.
Juvenile Temminck’s stints are similar in appearance to non-breeding adults, with brown-grey upperparts with deep buff fringes, which creates a slightly scaled pattern. A buff-brown band is visible across the breast.
Temminck's Stint foraging in muddy waters
Temminck’s stints are one of the smallest species of wading birds, smaller in length than a house sparrow. Females are usually slightly larger than males, with longer wings and a heavier overall body mass.
Temminck's Stint foraging in natural habitat
A sustained trilling sound, similar to the buzzy notes of a grasshopper warbler, is commonly heard by male Temminck’s stints in display flight. A shorter chipped ‘trrrit’ call is used as an alarm call or heard when flushed.
Temminck's Stint calling out
The main elements of a Temminck’s stint’s diet are insects and their larvae, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.
Prey is usually found on the surface of the ground; some prey is gained by probing into the wet mud with their relatively short bill, although this is less common.
Shortly after hatching, Temminck’s stints leave their nest and are tended by one parent but find their own food, foraging alongside their parent for invertebrates and larvae.
Temminck's Stint feeding
Preferred breeding habitats of Temminck’s stint include shrubby tundra landscapes, flat treeless floodplains, and open expanses of bare land, covered with short grass or stony shorelines. On their breeding grounds, they are often spotted at inlets, along fjords, deltas and streams.
During winter months, Temminck’s stints move to a variety of different wetland habitats, including freshwater wetlands further inland, such as sewage farms, irrigated fields, and flooded meadows.
Open coasts are avoided, and sightings at tidal mudflats, lagoons and salt marshes are less common than in summer months.
Temminck’s stints are migratory, breeding in extreme northern regions of Europe, from Norway in the west to northern Siberia in the east. Occasional breeding is recorded in Scotland, but this is no longer regular.
The winter range of Temminck’s stints covers parts of the southern Mediterranean region and extends into North Africa, through Egypt and Sudan, along the River Nile.
The main African wintering grounds are located south of the Sahara in a strip across central Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, and across into Yemen. Winter populations also gather in India and Pakistan, and further east, in south-east Asia and along the eastern coast of China.
Russia is home to the majority of the world’s breeding population of Temminck’s stints, with estimates in the 1990s of between 1 and 10 million pairs.
No recent data exists for breeding numbers in Fennoscandia, but in the 1980s, up to 10,000 pairs bred in Norway and Sweden, with up to 5,000 pairs in Finland.
Frontal view of a Temminck's Stint
With an official conservation status of ‘former breeder’ in the UK, Temminck’s stints are now considered a rarity, with only occasional breeding now reported, and sightings limited to brief visitors during spring migration.
Populations are well established in Russia during the breeding season, and on south-central Asian wintering grounds, particularly India and Pakistan, Temminck’s stints are considered fairly common and widespread.
Sightings of Temminck’s stints in the UK generally reach a peak in May as birds head north to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Reports of passage visitors are also occasionally made on the return leg in September but are not as numerous.
Temminck’s s can be spotted in estuaries and freshwater marshes near the east and south-eastern coasts of England and along the coast between North Wales and Merseyside.
Some rare and occasional breeding continues in a coastal region of northern Scotland but is now sporadic rather than regular or guaranteed.
The average lifespan of a Temminck’s stint is around 7 years, with breeding thought to occur for the first time at one year of age, although success is more likely from two years. The oldest ringed bird identified to date reached 11 years.
Predation is a key factor to blame for up to 80 percent of egg losses. Ruddy turnstones and common gulls are among the chief predators of Temminck’s stints’ nests.
Listed as Schedule I birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, Temminck’s stints are protected against being knowingly killed, injured, or taken into captivity, with their nest sites, eggs, and young being provided with additional protection.
Globally, the population of Temminck’s stints is secure and stable, and they are considered a species of least concern.
Some small declines in breeding numbers have been recorded in Norway, Sweden and Finland since the 1990s and the species is particularly vulnerable to habitat loss in Arctic areas where global warming is a concern.
Temminck’s stints are listed as a former breeding species on the British Birds of Conservation Concern list.
Temminck's Stint preening itself
Temminck’s stints use shallow scrapes for nesting, made directly on the ground and usually concealed by clumps of grass or low-lying tundra shrubbery.
Nest scrapes are typically lined with moss, leaves, and grass stems, although some feathers may be added. Two or even three scrapes may be used at the same, with females laying in multiple sites and clutches incubated independently by the female and male, and occasionally a second male if a third clutch is laid.
Temminck’s stints arrive on spring breeding grounds from May onwards, with eggs usually being laid in late May and June.
Departure for wintering grounds begins in late July but can continue until October for those raising later clutches. Incubation lasts for 21 to 22 days, with young fledging after between 15 and 18 days.
Temminck’s stints’ eggs are a greenish-buff colour, heavily mottled with brown spotting, blending in well with the stony tundra landscapes on which they are laid.
Usually, four eggs are laid, which measure 28 mm by 20 mm (1.1 in to 0.8 in).
Far from mating for life, the pair bonds of Temminck’s stints last for barely a week. It’s common for females to lay in two or three nest scrapes at the same time, and each clutch may be from a different male.
Pair of Temminck's Stints
Generally, a passive and non-aggressive bird, Temminck’s stints have been only occasionally observed to display highly territorial and confrontational behaviour. This is limited to their nest sites in the short period before incubation begins.
Confrontations are rarely physical, with vocal displays and posturing usually being enough to deter any threats.
Temminck’s stints are largely nocturnal, roosting during the day along the high tide line and foraging for food on muddy or sandy seashores overnight.
Temminck's Stint in-flight
Temminck’s stints are a fully migratory species, breeding across the extreme northern coast of Europe, from northern Norway across northern Finland into Arctic Russia.
Their annual autumn migration takes them to Africa, along the Nile and the region of central Africa immediately south of the Sahara. Additional wintering grounds are located in India, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Temminck’s stints used to breed in the UK, but have all but disappeared as a native species, with only a handful of nesting pairs (and sometimes none) raising young in the Scottish Highlands each year.
Up to around 100 individual Temminck’s stints are recorded in spring migration passage each year, with sightings along the eastern and south-eastern coasts of England, and along the border between North Wales and western England.
Family:Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
13cm to 15cm
34cm to 37cm
The Eurasian woodcock spends days roosting in dense, damp woodland undergrowth, and evenings and nights foraging in open fields as well as woods for worms and beetles.
The UKs breeding population of Wood Sandpipers are limited to an area of swampy marshland in the Highlands of northern Scotland, although they are far more commonly sighted in passage during their spring and autumn migrations as they make brief stopovers in southern and eastern England.
A long-legged wader, closely related to the curlew, the Eurasian whimbrel, has small breeding populations established on the Scottish islands of Shetland and Orkney. Migrating whimbrels may be spotted along Britain’s coastlines as they undertake long-distance migration flights between Arctic tundra breeding grounds and wintering territories in Africa.
The Ruddy Turnstone is an attractive shorebird, frequently seen flipping stones in search of small creatures sheltering beneath. These long-distance migrants visit temperate and tropical coastlines across the globe but return to the Arctic each year to nest.
Spotted redshanks have a distinctive black spotted summer plumage that UK residents are unlikely to see in birds on British shores, as the species is only a rare winter visitor or spotted in migration passage. Several hundred spotted redshanks make brief stopovers on British coastal wetlands each year, en-route to and from breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle.
The Snipe is a common but shy wader seen throughout the United Kingdom. These cryptic birds make a living by probing marshy ground for invertebrates in the mud below.
Sanderlings run tirelessly along sandy beaches, rushing down to feed as the waves recede and sprinting back, seemingly hoping to keep their feet dry. Their comical antics and non-descript looks belie an impressive avian that makes remarkable migrations between Arctic nesting grounds and overwintering grounds as distant as the southern tips of South America and South Africa.
A rare breeding wading bird in the UK, ruffs are among the most intriguing bird species on Earth, due to the diversity not just between males and females, but also between the three distinctly different types of males that occur.
Named for its red-orange legs, the Redshank is a common and noisy wader of the United Kingdom. These wary birds are present throughout the year, although they are most numerous in the winter non-breeding season.
Unlike many wading bird species, in red-necked phalaropes the traditional roles are reversed. The female is larger, brighter and leaves parental care of the young to the drabber, smaller male. Also, unusual for waders, red-necked phalaropes spend up to 9 months at sea once breeding in the upper northern hemisphere is complete.
A hardy wading bird that thrives in the bleak Arctic tundra landscapes of northeastern Canada, Greenland and Iceland, purple sandpipers arrive on wintering grounds along the northeastern coast of the United States and the UK each autumn, to forage for molluscs and crustaceans on rocky shores and coastal headlands.
Pectoral Sandpipers are mid-sized waders that breed on wet tundra landscapes across the northernmost extremes of North America and the Siberian Arctic. Their epic annual migration return trips of up to 30,000 km are one of the most lengthy of any bird species, similar to those undertaken by the Arctic tern.
One of the world’s smallest wading birds, little stints cover enormous distances on their annual migrations between breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle and winter territories in southern Africa and South Asia. A handful of individual birds spend winter in the UK, and records of vagrant birds reaching North America are occasionally reported.
Red knots, known simply as ‘knots’ in the UK are medium-sized shorebirds that undertake impressive annual migrations of up to 30,000 km (18,000 mi) each year between Arctic breeding grounds and southern coastal wintering habitats.
Highly camouflaged and elusive, the jack snipe is a small wading bird that spends winters on mudflats and freshwater wetlands across Britain. Smaller and less common than the UK’s other native snipe, the common snipe, jack snipes are harder to spot due to their tendency to crouch low and remain hidden among reeds.
The grey phalarope’s winter and summer plumage are so distinctly different that the species is known by an entirely different name in the US. In the UK, the bird’s name reflects its post-breeding plumage, which is dominated by light grey and white. However, in the US, it is known as the red phalarope, after the more vibrant orange-red plumage seen during the breeding season.
A medium wading bird, named after its brightly coloured legs, the greenshank breeds in northern Scotland, as well as further to the east across Scandinavia and Russia. In winter, an influx of greenshanks descends upon wetlands and marshes and along the coast of south-west England, Wales, Ireland and north-east Scotland. Tens of thousands of birds migrate significantly further afield, reaching the coasts of Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.
Green sandpipers are stocky shorebirds similar to the common sandpiper. They spend winters at inland freshwater wetlands in southern Europe and northern and central Africa after raising their young in swampy forests and wet woodland landscapes across northern Europe.
The Dunlin is a small wading bird from the sandpiper family Scolopacidae. Dunlins breed across North America and northern Europe, and Asia and are one of the most widely distributed wading birds, with ten subspecies.
Identified as being from a group of birds known as Waders, within North America they are generally referred to as Shorebirds. This monotypic species, a long distance migrant, is considered to have an Amber Conservation Status otherwise known as Near Threatened.
The largest European wading bird, the Eurasian curlew is easy to identify with its elongated bow-shaped bill and spindly legs. In winter groups of curlews known as ‘curfews’ forage together in coastal wetlands, and up to 66,000 pairs breed in the UK and are resident all year round.
Belonging to a group of birds generally called waders or shorebirds, the common sandpiper prefers freshwater habitats as opposed to saltwater locations.
An impressive, proud looking wader with particularly fine summer plumage which migrates south from its northern breeding grounds from July to October, returning for the summer from late February through April.
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