IUCN Red-List: Endangered
The Great Knot is a symbol of just how important it is to protect shorebird stopover sites along the East Asian-Australian Flyway. On the trip from Australia to Siberia, many of the Great Knot flocks fly straight from Australia to the Yellow Sea, a huge distance of around 6000 km. They rely on foraging habitat to be located where they expect it, and if it is not, the flocks won’t be able to refuel or rest, and many will die. The destruction of the Great Knot’s most important stopover site in Korea resulted in a loss of around a third of the population. The species is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and Critically Endangered in Australia.
This medium-sized shorebird has a slender, straight bill of medium length, and short olive legs. The grey feathers of their upperparts have pale fringes, giving them a scalloped appearance. This helps distinguish them from the closely related Red Knot, whose feathers are more uniformly grey. In Australia Great Knots are mostly to be found on the vast mud and sandflats of Broome. Here they probe the mud rapidly, trying to hit bivalve molluscs (think clams and pipis), which are their preferred food. Great Knots will also eat crustaceans, worms and sea snails (gastropods), but they really are partial to bivalves.
Meet the other shorebirds!
Written by Cathy Cavallo © 2017 Header image: Nigel Jackett Map: Amellia Formby Great Knot images: Greg Schechter, Amellia Formby