Wednesday, 23 September 2015

207. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Another smallish cute wader (there are lots!), Common Ringed Plovers or just Ringed Plovers to most are a widely distributed species, breeding in parts of northern Europe, northern Russia and Siberia and around the edge of Greenland. They winter in Africa - anywhere in the continent except the Sahara - and also around coastal parts of southern and western Europe (including bits of the UK) and the Middle East. The UK and nearby coastal regions of mainland Europe (France, Belgium and the Netherlands) are generally the only places where Ringed Plovers can be found all year round. Their preferred habitats are sandy or shingly beaches (against which they are excellently camouflaged) and other water margins e.g. along the edges of large lakes, mudflats and estuaries. During the breeding season they are not too gregarious but can form large flocks during migration and in winter. Their plumage is very distinctive; the photo shows an adult in summer. In winter the bill becomes mainly black and the legs may be slightly less bright orange; the black mask and breast band become browner and less distinctive. Juveniles look similar to winter adults, with duller orange or yellowish legs and less uniformly-coloured upperparts - they have a scaly appearance. Here in the UK the only other similar-looking species you're most likely to encounter is Little Ringed Plover; Ringed Plovers can be told apart by the lack of a yellow eye-ring, orange legs (and bill in summer), larger size and rounder, chunkier appearance.

Common Ringed Plover, ©Kjartan Birgisson, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Common Ringed Plover painting.
Not too shabby.

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