Friday 4 September 2015

How do you know it's a Ringed Plover?

juvenile Ringed Plover, Startops reservoir

Tring reservoirs: I fancied some easy birding for half an hour this morning, so took a stroll at the reservoirs under gloomy skies. A juvenile Ringed Plover (RP) had stayed overnight on Startops. The conditions were far from ideal for photography but it was a good opportunity to see the juvenile plumage up close. I’d also bumped into a couple of birders earlier and, whilst pondering all things avian, they’d asked how to separate juvenile Ringed from Little Ringed Plovers. So, here we are, some photographs and notes based on info from the Collins guide.

First up, today’s juvenile and the summer plumage adult from Wilstone, this spring. Juveniles and winter plumage adults do not have the striking orange bill-base or the black head markings and breast-band.

Ringed Plover
Left: juvenile; Right: summer adult

On to a direct comparison with a juvenile Little Ringed Plover (LRP) that I photographed at Startops in the exact same location, on the exact same day in 2013. It’s a shame I couldn’t replicate the sunshine today!

Left: juv Little Ringed Plover; Right: juv Ringed Plover

Overall, the RP is more compact, shorter legged and fuller chested. The jizz is markedly different. The bill of the RP is stout compared to the more slender bill on the LRP. Leg colour differs. And, on the RP there is a prominent white supercilium and any orbital ring is indistinct (and certainly not yellow in juveniles). The opposite is true of the juvenile LRP, where the yellow orbital ring is apparent and the supercilium is barely noticeable. There, you see, easy peasy...!?! Now, did someone mention the possibility of sunshine over the weekend...? Please let it be true....

Left: juv Little Ringed Plover; Right: juv Ringed Plover

Startops reservoirs, NW shoreline


  1. These are fantastic shots and a good detailed description of the different characteristics of each bird. Great stuff! From ARF


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