You are here

Common Sandpiper

Click the pic!

To aid users of mobile devices as well as those with a mouse or laptop finger pad this site uses a simple image-based menu system. Virtually every picture you see (images and photos) are links to more information arranged in a sort of top-down structure. See an image, click or tap on it to open a new page.

A passage migrant mainly in the autumn


Photograph by: 
Hamish Murray

Common Sandpiper: calls the tune

Post date: Monday, 27 October, 2014 - 00:00

From late August until early November we expect to see the Autumn migration period as birds from the north fly south for better weather during the winter. One of the signs of this are the occasional sightings of common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) around our shores.

The common sandpiper is quite common in Britain nesting on fast flowing rivers in Scotland, northern England and Wales but they head south to Africa for the winter. They can turn up in all sorts of unexpected places here in Dorset as they stop off for a final meal before heading out across the channel. Sometimes they can stay several days before making that long journey. I watched two ferreting around amongst the large stones on the bank of the River Frome opposite the quay in Wareham. They also turn upon the sea shore, especially rocky areas.

Sandpipers have a lovely wistful piping call and that is how they come by their colloquial name.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Common Sandpiper
Scientific Name Actitis hypoleucos
Status Occasional
Interest Level
Species Family Sandpipers
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Lakes and ponds
  • Mudflats
  • Rivers
Look for The gently bobbing tail
Additional Identification Notes
  • Mostly seen on migration in Dorset although occasional birds over winter 
  • Although seen on mudflats at low tide they can also be seen almost anywhere during migration times including lakes, ponds and rivers
  • They have a constantly bobbing tail which helps distinguish them