Grey Phalarope

Phalaropus fulicarius (Linnaeus, 1758) PL GREPH 5650
Family: Charadriiformes > Stercorariidae

Grey Phalarope, Neil Calbrade

The Grey (or Red) Phalarope is a small, Arctic breeding wader that has very different plumages in summer and winter.

Records of this small Arctic visitor peak in late autumn (from mid-September through December). Normally, it occurs offshore but storm-driven individuals can also be found on large inland waterbodies, where they can be surprisingly approachable.

Phalaropes swim with a distinctive spinning motion, creating small vortices of water that are thought to bring small invertebrates to the surface where they can pick them off the surface with their short delicate bill.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Grey Phalarope

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Grey Phalarope identification is sometimes difficult.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The winter range map for Grey Phalaropes shows records mainly along the North Sea from the Firth of Forth southwards, and along the south coast of England, and north to the southern Irish Sea, plus a scattering of inland records in south and central England. Most of these records come form November when birds are still migrating.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Grey Phalaropes are most often encountered during autumn storms, particularly in September and October, but winter records are also possible.

Weekly occurence of Grey Phalarope from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Grey Phalarope, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Liathag-allt
Welsh: Llydandroed Llwyd
Catalan: escuraflascons becgròs
Czech: lyskonoh ploskozobý
Danish: Thorshane
Dutch: Rosse Franjepoot
Estonian: puna-veetallaja
Finnish: isovesipääsky
French: Phalarope à bec large
German: Thorshühnchen
Hungarian: laposcsoru víztaposó
Icelandic: Þórshani
Irish: Falaróp Gobmhór
Italian: Falaropo beccolargo
Latvian: platknabja puslitis
Lithuanian: plokšciasnapis plaukikas
Norwegian: Polarsvømmesnipe
Polish: platkonóg plaskodzioby
Portuguese: falaropo-de-bico-grosso
Slovak: lyskonoh ploskozobý
Slovenian: ploskokljuni liskonožec
Spanish: Falaropo picogrueso
Swedish: brednäbbad simsnäppa

Links to more information from

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