• Name: Ringed plover | Charadrius hiaticula
  • Size: 48-57cm wingspan
  • Life span: 5 years (in 2015 a ringed bird was confirmed to be at least 21 years 11 months 12 days old!)
  • Diet: Ringed plovers have a varied diet including flies, spiders, marine worms, crustaceans, molluscs.
  • Reproduction: Ringed plover are seasonally monogamous, which means they mate with only one partner during a breeding season.  They will sometimes return to the same mate the following season; with a female laying 2-5 eggs.  
  • When to see: Throughout the year (January to December)
  • Where to see: Ringed plover can often be seen feeding along the tideline on many of our beaches, i.e. Porth Hellick, St Mary's, Samson, Lawrance's Bay, St Martin's and Pelistry, St Mary's in Scilly. 
  • Conservation status: ICUN Redlist | Least Concern (Global).  Birds of Conservation Concern 4 | Red (UK)
  • Population Trend: Decreasing
  • Threats:  Human activity/disturbance through increases in recreational activities, naturally fluctuating water-levels flooding their nest sites, habitat loss from coastal development, erosion, pollution and invasive species.
  • Fun Fact:  The Ringed plover will feign a broken wing in order to lure potential predators away from its nest. Males tend to perform more nighttime egg incubation, while females incubate more during the day.

Description:  The Ringed plover is a small, short-legged wading bird. It has a brownish grey back and wings with whitish under parts. It has a orange bill, tipped with black, orange legs and a black-and-white pattern on its head and breast. In flight, it shows a broad, white wing-stripe.

They breed on beaches around the coast, but they have also now begun breeding inland in sand and gravel pits and former industrial sites.

Like other Plovers, it forages for invertebrates and crustaceans in a particular way: standing and watching, running forward, pecking, then standing still again. The Ringed plover tempts underground prey to the surface by 'foot-trembling': tapping its feet fast on the ground to mimic raindrops

Nationally there are thought to be less than 10,000 breeding pairs and loss of breeding sites due to the effects of climate change and increased disturbance is likely to reduce this number further.

In 2001 in Scilly, between 30 & 50 pairs were recorded nesting across all of the islands, but we do not have any data since this time to know how their numbers compare now (2019)

In recent years we have had pairs breeding successfully at both Porth Hellick and Pelistry, on St Mary's where we have erected signage and fencing in an effort to minimise human disturbance and allow these beautiful birds to rear their young.


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With thanks to Joe Woodman for the Ringed Plover image