I’ve tried to iden­tify this bird and failed - help!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QCan you help iden­tify this bird seen at Wicken Fen, Cam­bridgeshire, in early May? I have not been able to iden­tify it us­ing books or the web and would re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate some ex­pert ad­vice.

Sean Green­way, So­ham, Cam­bridgeshire

AIt’s a Ruff, which oc­ca­sion­ally breeds in the UK in very small num­bers, but is more of­ten seen here in win­ter or on pas­sage. Ruff are won­der­fully vari­able in their plumage, and even in a very large flock it can some­times be im­pos­si­ble to find two alike. It’s thought that this wide vari­a­tion is to help recog­ni­tion of in­di­vid­ual birds in a species that is pretty much mute, but which ‘leks’ to find mates. What­ever the plumage, though, the struc­ture of Ruffs is very dis­tinc­tive, with a small head, long neck, medi­um­length bill, and a rather pot-bel­lied ap­pear­ance.

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