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Order Waders, Gulls, Skuas/Charadriiformes, Family Plovers/Charadriidae

Common Ringed Plover/Charadrius hiaticula - Adult

L 17-19½ cm, WS 35-41 cm. Breeds on open shores by sea or lakes, preferring gravelly or sandy patches among short grass; also above treeline on fells and tundra. Outside breeding season fairly common on inland water margins, estuaries and tidal flats; may form sizable groups on migration and in winter. Food is wide variety of freshwater and marine invertebrates. Nest is scrape on sand, shingle or other bare ground near inland water or on the coast.
IDENTIFICATION: Compared with Little Ringed Plover, more compact and full-chested with slightly shorter tertials and longer primary projection. Flight rapid with rather loosely ‘clipped’ wingbeats; compared with e.g. Dunlin, is longer-winged with less protruding head. Adult’s orange legs and bill-base, and prominent white wing-bar striking; female has often much brown in black head markings and breast-band, giving less clear-cut and smart appearance than male. In winter, legs are sometimes a little duller orange, and bill sometimes is all dark. - Juvenile: Dark brown instead of black on head and breast; breast-band reduced or broken in centre; upperparts finely pale-fringed; bill all dark or with a little yellowish at the base, legs dull orange to yellowish. Black on head and breast usually acquired by Dec/Jan, after which 1st-winter rarely distinguishable from adult. - Variation: Very slight; northerly birds of Fenno-Scandian mountains and arctic coasts (ssp. tundrae) on average slightly smaller and slimmer than in rest of Europe (hiaticula) and a tinge darker above; they also moult flight-feathers in winter quarters, instead of near breeding grounds as hiaticula.
VOICE: Call very characteristic: a soft, distinctly disyllabic, rising ‘pooeep’. Alarm is a monosyllabic, piping ‘peep’. Song usually alternates between a quick, rhythmic, mellow ‘tee-too-e tee-too-e tee-too-e tee-too-e …’ and a hurried, more simple ‘t’weea-t’weea-t’weea-t’weea-…’, usually in slow-winged, bat-like display circuit low over the ground.

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