This is the ringed plover of the Northern parts of the Old World and Greenland (and the adjacent shores of Arctic Canada. For the rest of Northern North America it is replaced by the Semipalmated Plover.
These are dumpy medium-sized plovers with olive-brown backs, a dark breast band, dark face and dark bill - with the usual white above the bill and above the eye. They have a strong white wing bar in flight and a distinctive fluting flight call. They breed on open ground from the highest tundra South to the shores of the North Sea and inland not only in gravel pits but even in fields! During the winter these birds come South.
Those from furthest North leap-frog the ones that breed to the South of them. Thus British birds seldom move far but passage birds can be found down to Southern Africa and North to be breeding in Peary Land - only 800 kms from the North Pole. In winter populations in Western Europe are mostly on the coast. Some are in estuaries but many favour the relatively open shore. The British and Irish breeding population is probably not quite 10,000 pairs but this represents a very important population as there are rather few other breeding areas in the temperate region for this bird.
The typical plover of Northern Europe and Asia.
Length 190 mm Closed wing 130 mm Weight 63 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead