What Is a Greenshank?
A greenshank is a little bird having a long bill with a grey base and olive-green legs-a member of a group of birds known as sandpipers. The greenshank breeds in Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Common greenshanks are brown in breeding plumage, and grey-brown in winter. When in water, they can appear very similar to marsh sandpipers but are distinguished by the shape of the lower bill which gives it an upturned appearance to the bill. They show a white wedge on the back in flight. They are somewhat larger than the related common redshank. The usual call is a rapid series of three short fluty notes syllabilized as teu-teu-teu.
It builds its nest on the ground, being content usually to settle in a small hollow, lined with heather or dry grass. The eggs are pale buff or stone color, blotched with purplish-gray and spotted with dark brown. Worms, insects and tiny fish provide the bird’s foods. In winter the greenshank migrates, sometimes as far south as Australia or South Africa.
Where to see them: Confined to the N and W of Scotland in summer around boggy moorland and peatland pools. On migration it can be found across the UK, inland around lakes and freshwater marshes, as well as at coastal wetlands and estuaries, with the largest numbers close to the coast. In winter it is found on the estuaries of SW England, Wales, W Scotland and N Ireland.
When to see them: On breeding grounds from April to August. Passage birds most likely to be seen in April and May and between July and September, travelling from and to African wintering grounds. Wintering birds are seen from October to March.