Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Calidris alpina - Dunlin

Range & Status

Holarctic; in Britain and Ireland 9500 breeding pairs (chiefly Scotland); 577,000 winter.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: small numbers formerly bred on bogs of Bodmin Moor (together with Dartmoor the most southerly breeding sites in the world); sporadic breeding has been suspected at a site on north side of the Moor in recent years. Small numbers are widespread on passage on all major estuaries, with main arrival from mid October to overwinter, peaking at 5-6000 birds during December-February. The most important site is St. John' s Lake (3-6000 regular in midwinter) which makes the Tamar estuary complex of National Importance. Isles of Scilly: small numbers on passage and in winter.

Habitat & Ecology

Breeds on moorland blanket bogs. Winters on tidal mudflats, feeding in large parties over open mud.


Creation of three reservoirs on the Moor in past 25 years has flooded extensive areas of bog. It is unlikely that Dunlin will now be other than a sporadic breeder in Cornwall. Recently a proposal to use St. John' s Lake for hovercraft training has been submitted by the Royal Marines, with resulting potential disturbance to both feeding and roosting sites.


The main estuary sites are SSSI. The Tamar complex has been promoted for SPA status. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).

Click here to see Aphotoflora images by David Fenwick


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.