Huahou/Lesser Knot Calidrus canutus
Native. At risk-declining.
Frequently called Red Knot but a more appropriate name for Aotearoa New Zealand is Lesser Knot. The red refers to their breeding plumage which they acquire for their Arctic stay but arrive here in their non-breeding colouration of grey for our summer. They are best seen from the Dawick Street viewing platform at high tide, roosting on the sandspit, and can also be seen feeding on the mudflats at low tide. By mid-summer they may number several hundred.
Lesser Knot are a stocky, nondescript shorebird that can be mistaken for other, rarer migrants. It is a plump bird with short, dull green legs and a short, heavy, straight black bill. General plumage is grey brown above, with pale feather edges that clearly mark the individual feathers, and has pale grey underparts with some markings on the flanks. In breeding plumage it has a rusty-red neck, head, and breast. A gregarious species, it is often seen in flocks but where there are only a few individuals, a group may roost with other species, especially Bar-tailed Godwits. It feeds on the mudflats at the tide line, drilling rapidly into the mud in search of invertebrates with a motion rather like that of a sewing machine needle, probing as they move around.