The Common Ringed Plover is a summer visitor to South Africa, migrating to our country and much of sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Mediterranean from their arctic breeding grounds. Most of the birds move to the coast, where they prefer the muddy banks of estuaries and lagoons as well as rocky shores,with a lesser number overwintering at our inland water bodies – dams, marshes and even sewerage works. The first birds arrive from September, with the last ones departing by early May. A handful of individuals, perhaps those too weak to make the long distance journey, remain behind throughout our winter. They feed on small crustaceans and other aquatic and water-associated invertebrates.
The IUCN considers the Common Ringed Plover to be of least concern. It is estimated that the adult population worldwide may be as high as 1,4-million, of which as many as 10,000 arrive in southern Africa annually, from places as far afield as Siberia, 18,000km distant, and a remarkable feat for a bird so small! Adults measure about 19cm long, and weigh around 50g.