HOW MI­GRA­TION PAT­TERNS DIF­FER

Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Knot & Dunlin -

Most Dun­lin that we see on Bri­tish coast­lines in win­ter breed in Arc­tic Eura­sia, while our Knots are from the west, in­clud­ing Green­land and even Arc­tic Canada. In the spring, both Knot and Dun­lin fly in bulk to the Wad­den­zee, off the Nether­lands and Ger­many, to fat­ten up for their flights north. The Knot’s mi­gra­tion is re­mark­able, be­cause they are thought then to fly to Ice­land in one hop, and then on to their ex­treme north­ern breed­ing ar­eas in an­other long flight. The Dun­lin, smaller and less pow­er­ful, need not per­form such a feat. They might take a short hop to Fen­noS­can­dia, or as far east as the White Sea. They have no need for marathon flights. The point is, though, that as soon as the win­ter ends, th­ese ap­par­ently sim­i­lar birds be­gin to di­verge in pro­found ways. They look sud­denly very dif­fer­ent, sound dif­fer­ent and mi­grate in op­po­site di­rec­tions. I would ven­ture to sug­gest that it is then, and only then, that a Knot could be un­mis­tak­able from the Dun­lin.

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