Common Sandpipers breed in mainly upland freshwater habitats in a vast area including most of Europe and across Asia to Kamchatka and Japan. In Britain they nest in Scotland, northwest England and Wales, and sporadically in a dozen or so counties further south in England. Strongly migratory, they mostly winter throughout sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia through to Australia. A small, but apparently increasing, number remain in western Europe throughout the winter, including in Britain and Ireland: the 1981-84 Winter Atlas estimated the British and Irish winter population at about 100 birds, divided equally between those on estuaries and those at inland sites. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded a 33% increase in the winter population since 1984.
    In Wiltshire, it had long been suspected that they breed, with apparently established pairs regularly seen in the summer months, but nests have never been found. Confirmed evidence of breeding finally came in July 1980 when an adult was seen with two downy young at Langford Lakes. This remains the only positive breeding record for the county.
    Migrating Common Sandpipers are regularly recorded on passage north between March and early June and on passage south between late June and October. In the period between 2000 and 2009 Hobby recorded them annually at an average of around ten or eleven Wiltshire sites during both the spring and autumn migration. Most of these records were from well-visited sites and the total almost certainly understates the total numbers passing through the county: Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded their presence in 58 tetrads during the summer.
    There were only a couple of passing references to Common Sandpipers seen in Wiltshire in winter prior to 1975 but since then they have been noted in more than half of the winters. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded them present in winter in six different Wiltshire locations.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.