BIRDS OF ICELAND great ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula

Charadrius hiaticula; the great ringed plover is a rather small but active plover that gets its name from the black band along the neck that is especially pronounced on the front part of the neck. It also has a black band over the head and eyes. Quite characteristic is also the white band above the beak and the black tip on the yellow bill. A very similar species, Ch. dubius=little ringed plover, is present in many parts of Europe and northern Africa. They are difficult to tell apart but the latter is not commonly found on Iceland as far as I know. The ringed plover generally breed on sandy and gravelly terrains both along the coast and more inland at suitable habitats. Like many other waders and plovers they distract people and predators away from their nests. The chicks immediately leave the nests after hatching. Caution should be taken in approaching parent birds in this period. Their habit of distraction leaves the chicks unprotected to gulls and other predator birds. So keep your distance! After the breeding season they are found generally in coastal regions like mud flats and shores. They migrate south but high arctic populations use Iceland in autumn and spring as a feeding stopover before flying down to Africa. Non-migratory populations are found in Britain and western France, representing the southern-most breeding populations.

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A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise

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