Black-breasted Plover, Grey Plover, Yellow Plover, Hill Plover, Sheep's Guide
Status: Summer visitor from France & Iberia (though possibly some remain year-round in Ireland) & winter visitor from Iceland. Most in Ireland between October & February
Conservation Concern: Red-listed in Ireland due to a large decline in the breeding population. The European population is considered to be Secure.
Identification: Smaller than Grey Plover, with narrower, more pointed wings. Golden brown upperparts, which look grey at close range. Males in summer have more black below than females - extends from throat, towards each eye, and ventrally under neck, chest and belly. In winter, males and females similar in appearence, with no black underparts.
Call: Flat whistle 'puu' in flight or when alarmed. Rythmic song 'pu-pee-oo' repeated in display flight, often followed by a repeated 'perpurrlya' when alighting, or when on the ground.
Diet: Feed on a variety of soil and surface-living invertebrates, principally beetles and earthworms, but also on plant material such as berries, seeds and grasses. They regularly feed in association with Lapwing & Black-headed Gulls.
Breeding: Breed in heather moors, blanket bogs & acidic grasslands. Distribution limited to the uplands of northwest counties in Ireland.
Wintering: Throughout the winter, Golden Plovers are regularly found in large, densely-packed flocks, and in a variety of habitats, both coastal and inland. Their distribution is widespread in Ireland.
Where to See: Ballymacoda in County Cork and Little Brosna Callows in County Offaly regularly support >10,000 birds. Strangford Lough in County Down, Rahasane Turlough in County Galway and Tralee Bay, Lough Gill & Akeragh Lough in County Kerry are other important wintering sites (7,000-10,000 birds).
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey.