If there is one wader that causes more ‘trouble’ than any other, especially in autumn, it is the Ruff. In the Collins Bird Guide, it is ‘hidden away’ with the rare visiting waders, so is easily missed. Also, the word Ruff makes many birdwatchers think of the elaborately coiffured, foppish ‘macaronis’ which parade about on the lekking grounds. This is not the typical plumage of Ruff in the UK, especially in the autumn. Most Ruff around this month (and probably most waders in general), will be juveniles, birds hatched this year, in fresh, tidy, new feathers. Ruff juveniles are handsome birds, but can cause confusion with other rarer species, such as Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and even juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. They are neat birds, with evenly fringed wing and back feathers and a warm buff face and breast. Young Ruffs come in two sizes: big ones are males, smaller ones (the most confusing) are females, which tend to be ‘better proportioned’. Get to learn Ruff and remember one crucial thing – they are the most silent of our waders, rarely calling at all.