Dunlin Calidris alpina
Best time to see: Sep to May
Most widespread and abundant small wader, found on estuaries in winter
Form enormous flocks that, in flight, behave like wisps of smoke blown by the wind.
Winter visitor to Essex and S. Britain, breeding on moorland in N. Britain
In winter, pale grey above, white below, medium black bill; 17–18 cm
Feeds busily in hunched-up posture, eating crustaceans and molluscs
In flight shows white wingbar; flocks fly low over the water, sweeping upwards together, then showering down again.
Location: Southend on Sea
Photographer: Paul Russell