A large, black-and-white wader with very long, red legs and a thin, pointed, black bill. In flight, the black underwings contrast with the white underparts, and the long red legs trail conspicuously.
Sexes are alike except that female is duller on the wings. The head and neck markings are variable in both sexes, from pure white to predominantly dusky. Juvenile and immature have some grey on the nape, dull wings and greyish pink legs.
Estuaries, marshes, vleis, saltpans and flooded ground.
A harsh, short 'kik-kik', especially when alarmed. Very vocal in defence of nest and young.