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The Great Knot is plump sandpiper with a medium length, stout, straight bill. Individuals are generally grey-brown with dark feathering above, white feathering below and dark brown spots on the foreneck, breast and along the sides. Across the uppertail-coverts is a white wing stripe and band. The bill is black, iris brown and the legs and feet are dark grey to olive green. The species is distinguishable from other Knots by its larger size, darker, more mottled upperparts, streaked crown, more heavily spotted breast and sides, whiter rump and wing-bar and a longer, thicker bill. When breeding in the Northern Hemisphere the grey-brown patterned plumage becomes darker and chestnut spots are visible in the centre of the wings. Individuals call in a double-noted whistle, nyut-nyut.