RUFF STUFF

Bird Watching (UK) - - September Id Challenge -

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.

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