, Philomachus pugnax
is a medium-sized wader.Large view
Their breeding habitat is bogs, marshes and wet meadows with short vegetation in northern Europe and Russia. They breed from May to August with males gathering in suitable areas and females nesting solitarily or in semi-colonial groups. Ruff are migratory, wintering in southern and western Europe, Africa and India. They travel on a broad front across Europe. The species arrives to “over-winter” in southern Africa late-July and August, returning to northern Europe and Russia from late-March to mid-May. The species migrates in large flocks of hundreds or thousands of individuals and forms huge dense groups on its wintering grounds. During the time spent here the species occupies the muddy margins of brackish, saline and alkaline lakes, ponds, pools, rivers, marshes and food-plains, as well as freshly mown or grazed short-sward grasslands and wheat fields, usually roosting at night in the shallow waters of lake shores.
These birds forage in a variety of habitats such as salt-pans, marshlands, lagoons and wet grasslands and soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat flies, water-bugs, mayflies and grasshoppers, small crustaceans, spiders, small molluscs, annelid worms, frogs, small fish and green plant material and wild plant seed.