13 November 2020
When red knots come to the UK in autumn they gather in flocks much larger than I have ever seen in the U.S. — sometimes as many as 10,000 birds.
Red knots (Calidris canuta) have a disjoint breeding distribution that determines their choice of winter locations and migration routes. The rufa subspecies visits the eastern U.S. though for most of them the final winter destination is the southern tip of South America.
The islandica subspecies spends the winter in the UK and western Europe after breeding in Greenland and Ellesmere Island, Canada.
Now in non-breeding plumage they are no longer red. The British call them “knots.” The flocks are spectacular!
Next spring they will be red again and head back north.
(photos and map from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)