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Grey plover

What am I?

In summer it has silver and black spotted upperparts, a black face, neck and belly. In winter, it loses the black feathers and takes on a browny-grey look.

For both plumages, the rump is white and in flight in winter it shows distinctive black ‘armpits’. Like most plovers it stands very upright and tends to run and then suddenly stop to feed.

These plovers generally seen in small numbers, although flocks can form when there is a high tide.

How to spot them

The grey plover is similar to the golden plover, but is bigger and greyer, with a sturdier black bill and long black legs. It has a spotted, white and silvery-grey back, and pale grey and white underparts. In spring, adults sport a black throat, chest and belly as they make their way north to their breeding grounds.

Where to see them

A common winter visitor to our coasts, large numbers can be found on estuaries.

Conservation status

The grey plover is amber listed in the UK (Opens in a new window)

Did you know?

Known in North America as the ‘black-bellied plover’, the grey plover breeds in Arctic coastal regions across the north of Alaska, Canada and Russia. It nests on the ground in shallow scrapes created in dry, open tundra.