I get alerts for sightings of uncommon birds through various Twitter accounts and my birding group on Facebook and, when I heard a Greenshank had been spotted in Cardiff Bay, I crossed my fingers it would stay around overnight and was up early the next morning to see. I was lucky and, considering they have a reputation for being flighty, this bird was uncommonly still and very obliging. When it did start a little nervous jiggle, I quickly moved on.
The Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) has gained a delightful collection of common names including barker, stiltie (in Scotland, meaning wader with long legs), greater plover, green-legged horseman, green-legged long-shank, and green-shanked godwit. As you might guess from all those mentions of ‘green shanks’, it has a greenish tinge to its long slim legs. It’s an elegant bird, I think, not large, though it is the largest amongst its close relatives the redshanks and larger sandpipers.
In south Wales, the Greenshank is mostly a passage bird, seen around coastal wetlands and estuaries and near inland waters like ponds and marshes. They spend their winters in western Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa, through the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula to Southeast Asia, and as far south as Australia, and in Britain they spend their summers in the north and west of Scotland, where they breed on upland moorlands, usually near trees, a large rock or fencepost (possibly as a visual aid to nest location).