This astonishing bird is a black and white wader with amazingly long legs. It is found all over the place - sometimes the birds are split into as many as eight species. However the birds are very obviously related (in North America it is called the Black-necked Stilt - and theirs have black necks). In all populations the legs trail far behind the tip of the tail when they fly.
The European birds are white bodied but with more (immatures) or less (adults) dusky mark down the back of the neck and black wings - the legs are pink and the bill straight and black. The only slightly similar bird is the Avocet and this has shorter blue legs and an upcurved bill. It often wades to the full extent of its astonishing legs and uses its delicate bill to pick food items from the water surface or emergent vegetation.
These birds are found in shallow, still water (fresh or brackish) all over the warmer parts of the World - flooded rice paddies are a favourite or the saline lagoons of areas where the water is evaporated for the production of sea salt. Most Northern birds leave for warmer areas in the winter. Breeding in Britain was recorded in 1945 and there have been alarms and excursions since.
If you cannot identify this then .......
Length 380 mm (inc. legs!) Closed wing 235 mm Weight 190 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead