redshank defined in 1930 yearredshank - Redshank;
redshank - Summer plumage: upper parts pale brown closely streaked and barred with umber; secondaries nearly white; rump white, with a few dusky flecks; tail-feathers white barred with blackish; under parts white, streaked on the neck and breast with umber; legs and feet orange-red. Winter plumage: upper parts ash-colour; rump and under parts white, sparsely streaked and spotted with grey on the neck and breast. The female is slightly larger than the male. Length, eleven inches.
The redshank, although not so numerous as formerly, is still a fairly common bird of the tidal flats and saltings on the east coast of England, and, in smaller numbers, in all suitable localities in Great Britain and Ireland. It is resident throughout the year, but is most plentiful in autumn and winter, at which time its numbers are increased by the arrival of migrants from northern Europe. Its food consists of marine worms, insects, and small crustaceans, and when its feeding-grounds are covered at flood-tide, it may be seen in close flocks on the small, dry areas, waiting for the water to subside. When thus congregated the birds are very loquacious, keeping up a perpetual confused sound of many voices, which has been compared to the chirruping concert of a flock of house-sparrows before settling down to roost of an evening. When the tide goes out the flocks break up, and the birds scatter in all directions to feed. The redshank begins to breed about the end of May, in fens and inland marshes, and on the saltings, out of reach of the tide.
The nest is a slight depression in the ground, with a few dried bents and grass-blades for lining, or with no lining at all, and is in some cases quite exposed; but it is more often placed among coarse grass, or in the centre of a tussock, which conceals it from view. Four eggs are laid, of a yellowish grey ground-colour, blotched and spotted with purplish brown. When its breeding-haunts are approached the bird displays the greatest excitement, and flies circling about high above the intruder's head; and at such times a peculiar manner of flight, common to all the species of the genus Totanus, becomes very marked. The flight is slow and somewhat wavering, with an occasional downward stroke of the wings, which are much depressed, as of a duck about to drop on to the water. While flying in this way it clamours loudly, making the marsh ring with its shrill, piercing pipe, and at times dashes down close to the intruder's head, as if to intimidate him; and if there should be young, or eggs about to hatch, it drops on to the ground, and flutters along the surface like a wounded bird, in order to draw the danger away. Most birds in the order which includes the sandpipers, snipes, and plovers, make use of this device when their young are in danger.
At all times the redshank is a vigilant and clamorous bird, and as the meaning of its ringing alarm-note is understood by all waders and waterfowl, it is heartily detested by the gunners on the sea-coast.
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