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Bar-tailed Godwit & Ringed Plover | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Bar-tailed Godwit & Ringed Plover


[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limosa lapponica | [UK] Bar-Tailed Godwit | [FR] Barge rousse | [DE] Pfuhlschnepfe | [ES] Aguja de Cola Pintada | [IT] Pittima minore | [NL] Rosse Grutto



spanwidth min.: 70 cm

spanwidth max.: 80 cm

size min.: 37 cm

size max.: 39 cm


incubation min.: 20 days

incubation max.: 21 days

fledging min.: 0 days

fledging max.: 0 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 4


Physical characteristics


Medium-sized wader (35 cm), with tail markings and slightly upcurved bill. In breeding plumage, males have rich chestnut-red heads and underparts, and dark wings and upperparts touched with small amounts of chestnut. Breeding females are less colorful than males, with some light chestnut coloring on the upper breast fading to white down below. Non-breeding birds have grayish-brown upperparts, gray streaking on the breast, and white underparts.




On its breeding grounds in Alaska, Bar-tailed Godwit nests on tundra hillsides with short shrubby growth and hummocky ground cover. Breeding habitats also include wet river valleys and open woodlands near water-bodies. Breeding birds will sometimes leave nesting habitat to feed at coastal lagoons located some distance away. During migration and on wintering grounds, Bar-tailed Godwit is found primarily on coastal mudflats


Other details


This wader inhabits arctic and subarctic regions of Eurasia and western Alaska. The birds of northern Scandinavia, European Russia and western Siberia are wintering mainly in Western Europe. They amount to about 125000 individuals. The birds breeding more to the east in Siberia are migrating along the coasts of Western Europe, but are wintering in north-western Africa




In winter, birds occur chiefly in flocks at intertidal habitats. Food consists mainly of worms, insects and rarely of seeds and small fruits. it probes in exposed mud or shallow water for crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and annelid worms. In Alaska, birds feed heavily on aquatic insects, but will occasionally eat seeds and berries.




Males perform elaborate courtship and territorial displays in which they call loudly and circle high above the tundra in flight. The nest is a shallow depression, lined with grass, moss, and lichens, placed on a raised hummock surrounded by grass. Clutch size is usually four eggs, and both sexes participate in incubation, which lasts about three weeks. A short time after hatching, chicks are led by both parents to marshy areas, where the young find all their own food. On migration, it is believed that Alaskan breeders fly long distances over the Pacific Ocean en route to Australia and New Zealand, rather than quickly crossing the North Pacific and then moving south along the Asian coastline.




Migratory. West Palearctic breeding birds winter North Sea and Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa, and to a lesser extent Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and coasts and islands of western Indian Ocean. Always scarce to rare inland in Europe (south of breeding range), Africa, and India. Major passages in spring and autumn are through Baltic and North Seas and thence along western seaboard. In comparison, eastern passage is small: rare in east Mediterranean and on Black Sea; only slight evidence for movement via Caspian region.




Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)


[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Charadriidae | [latin] Charadrius hiaticula | [UK] Ringed Plover | [FR] Pluvier grand-gravelot | [DE] Sandregenpfeifer | [ES] Chorlitejo Anillado | [IT] Corriere grosso | [NL] Bontbekplevier


spanwidth min.: 35 cm

spanwidth max.: 41 cm

size min.: 17 cm

size max.: 20 cm


incubation min.: 23 days

incubation max.: 25 days

fledging min.: 22 days

fledging max.: 26 days

broods 2

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 4


Charadrius hiaticula


Feadóg chladaigh


Bull's Eye, Sea Lark, Sand Lark, Sand Tripper, Stone Runner


Status: Resident & winter visitor from areas further north where this population also breeds (Iceland, the Baltic & southern Scandinavia). Peak numbers between August and early October, and then numbers decline slightly (passage birds move further south) and stabilise between November and January.


Conservation Concern: Amber-listed as internationally important numbers winter in Ireland. The European population is considered to be Secure.


Identification: Compact, small wader, similar in size to Dunlin. Grey-brown upperparts and white underparts. Adults with orange bill with black tip in summer, which is mostly black in winter, orange legs, black ring widens as it extends across the chest. White throat and across the back of the neck. Prominent white wing-bar in flight.


Call: Mellow 'choo-ee'. Alarm is sharp 'peep', song repeated rythmic, mellow 'tee-too-e' and hurried and repeated 't'weea-t'.


Diet: Hunts visually, scanning the area for signs of movement which indicate potential prey. It feeds on a variety of invertebrates, particularly polychaete worms and crustaceans. Characteristic plover feeding action - short run along ground, pause, bend to pick up food item followed by another run.


Breeding: Mostly coastal breeding distribution, preferring to nest on exposed wide sandy or shingle beaches. Some breed inland, particularly in the west, where their preferred nesting habitat is on short-grazed pasture beside rivers and along lake


Wintering: Winter around the entire coastline, but are quite sparse along the north and southeast coasts. Mostly recorded along sandy stretches or along the upper shores of estuaries and non-estuarine coastline


Where to See: The Mullet, Broadhaven & Blacksod Bays in County Mayo, Outer Ards in County Down, Tralee Bay, Lough Gill & Akeragh Lough in County Kerry, Dublin Bay in County Dublin and Inner Galway Bay in County Galway are among the most important wintering sites (250-450 birds).



Physical characteristics


More robust plover than C. dubius and very similar to C. semipalmatus, but lacks basal web between middle and inner toes, and has slightly broader breast band, larger white supercilium and clearer yellow eye-ring. Female has breast band and ear-coverts tinged brown on sides. Distinct non-breeding plumage absent in nominate race. Juvenile resembles pale adult with buffy fringes, but these soon lost.




Along coast on sand or shingle beaches, sandbanks and mudflats, estuaries and, occasionally, rivers, lakes, lagoons, short grassland, flooded fields and some artificial habitats also occurs on tundra. Prefers moist substrates, but rarely in shallow water. Generally, at least during migration, race tundrae occurs on softer sediments than hiaticula. Roosts communally, close to feeding area, on exposed, bare ground, or that with short vegetation, usually on coast, above high water mark.


Other details


Charadrius hiaticula is a widespread breeder in northern Europe (occurring more patchily further south), which probably constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>120,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few countries during 1990-2000, the species was stable or increased across most of its European range (the trend in Iceland was unknown), and probably underwent only a small decline overall.




Moluscs, isopods, polychaete worms, crustaceans, amphipods and various insects. Sometimes uses foot-trembling. Typically in small flocks of up to 50. Forages by day and night, often on tidal flats.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 410,000-540,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




April around North Sea, June-July in Iceland, June in Nortern Eurasia. Seasonally monogamous.pair-bond occasionally maintained over successive years. Solitary or in loose neighbourhood groups, with nests 10-100 m apart. Nest is shallow scrape, lined with pebbles, debris and pieces of vegetation. 3-4 eggs, incubation lasts 21-27 days, by both parents. Chick pale buffy grey finely mottled with dusky and some cinnamon-buff above, white underparts, with blackish bordering band. Age of first breeding 1 year.




Migratory. Northernmost birds migrate furthest S, while southernmost breeders are also northernmost winterers; some W European birds may remain close to their breeding grounds. Mainly winters in Africa, but also in Mediterranean Basin, Iberian Peninsula, Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Small numbers migrate through, or possibly winter in, China and Japan. Nearctic breeders all migrate across N Atlantic, in a single flight or via Greenland and Iceland, probably to winter in W Africa. Race tundrae migrates via Europe, but also crosses Eurasian and African landmasses in broad front, towards E & S Africa; possibly crosses Sahara. In Egypt arrives early Sept and departs late May, in South Africa Sept-Oct and Apr, in Morocco Aug-Nov and Apr-Jun. High degree of site fidelity during migration and wintering.


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Taken on September 15, 2017