Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus Fulicarius)

Grey PhalaropeThis is a relatively rare bird in the UK, with around 200 seen per year normally after storms in autumn, as it is an arctic breeding bird, but occasionally it is a winter visitor so most often seen between October and January in the UK. It is normally seen swimming or even spinning rapidly as it picks insects off the surface of the water spending most of their life out at sea. They mostly inhabit coastal areas but can be driven further inland to pools by bad weather.  It is often a fairly tame bird and distinguished by its grey upperparts and Black panda like mark around its eye. In American they are known as Red Phalaropes as breeding plumage is brick red all over and very distinctive but it is rare for the birds to be in the UK during the breeding season. The Phalarope is one of the few species where the male takers care of the young and eggs, a female normal lays four eggs in the nest.

The Phalarope feeds on marine plankton taken from the surface of the sea and when breeding it feeds on small aquatic creatures and insects. The bird is around 21cm long with a wingspan of about 42cm; the first record of it in Britain was in 1757.