Grey Plover

Pluvialis squatarola


The grey plover is a chunky plover, larger than the similar golden plover. The grey plover is found only along the coast, preferring sandy and muddy estuaries. Although a small number of birds stay during summer this is really a winter migrant, arriving here from July, peaking in autumn and leaving from April onwards the next year. Like other plovers it forages for invertebrates and crustaceans in a particular way: standing and watching, running forward, pecking, then standing still again.

How to identify

A big, grey version of the golden plover with a sturdier black bill and long black legs. It has a spotted, white and silvery-grey back and pale grey and white underparts. In the spring, when adults migrate north through Britain, they have black throat, chest and belly.

Where to find it

A common winter visitor to our coasts; large numbers can be found on estuaries such as The Wash, Humber, Thames and Dee.


When to find it

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

How can people help

The wintering population of grey plovers is important in the UK but its favoured coastal habitats are under threat from development, pollution and changing land use. To ensure that we keep populations of plovers and other waders healthy it is important that our marine environment is managed properly. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives from coast to deep sea. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Grey Plover
Latin name
Pluvialis squatarola
Wading birds
Length: 26-29cm Wingspan: 77cm Weight: 240g Average Lifespan: 9 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.