Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris)
Size: 26-28 cms; Sexes alike
Distribution: Great Knots have a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,000,000–10,000,000 km². They are known to occur in Australia; Bangladesh; China; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Viet Nam, Republic of Malaysia; Myanmar; Oman; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Taiwan; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; United States of America. Vagrants
are regularly reported from parts of Europe.
Estimated global population: 380,000
Risk status: Least concern
Description: The Great Knot is a rather dull, short-legged medium sized sandpiper and is a member of the family Scolopacidae. The head and neck are greyish-brown with dark streaking. Underparts are whitish with bold black spots. Breeding birds display chestnut and black scapulars with white edges. In flight, this long-winged calidrid shows conspicuous white uppertail coverts.
Great Knots are gregarious and are often found in mixed flocks. The Knot forages for food by methodically thrusting its bill deep into the mud searcjhing for invertebrates and crustaceans. The species has also been reported to eat seeds, berries and insects at its breeding grounds in Siberia.
Great Knots breed on mountaintops in eastern Siberia, and also in Korea and China. In non-breeding areas the Great Knot is mostly found in coastal habitats that comprise large areas of bare or sparsely vegetated intertidal mudflats or sandflats. They are rarely found on inland wetlands and do not favour sandy beaches.
Great Knots are international long distance migrants between the northern and southern hemispheres and make one of the longest migratory flights in the avian world, flying almost 5500 km (a migratory flight lasting 4 days) from Australia to China during northward migration. They use a limited number of staging sites on the annual round trip between their breeding grounds and non-breeding areas in Australia and Asia. This species adopts a ‘long jump’ strategy where they fly
non-stop from Australia through to China’s Yellow Sea Region. The migration route used by these birds is known as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The first birds arrive in Australia in October – November. They begin their northern migration in March – April before refuelling in the northern Yellow Sea and departing for the breeding grounds in late May. Migratory routes are usually along coasts with passages through China and Japan.
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