I found a flock of thirteen Ringed Plovers (with five Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover thrown in for good measure) at Hollowell Reservoir this afternoon. The Ringed Plovers all seemed to be Tundra Ringed Plovers appearing relatively small and neat with quite dark mantles and, for those in the vicinity, only a ‘half size up’ from the Little Ringed Plover. But look at the contrast between the two birds pictured here. One is clearly
a male (black ear coverts, apparently wholly black breast band and sharp demarcation between the orange bill base and the black tip) and the other presumably is a female,
with dull brownish ear coverts and a narrower breast band as well as a narrower black band on the forehead. Unlike nominate race hiaticula Ringed Plovers, tundrae undergoes a late winter moult to summer plumage and so should always appear fresh in spring. I always get the impression that the breast band on tundrae is perhaps slightly narrower and more even in width than that on hiaticula but that’s just a personal perception – I haven’t seen it in the literature and I could be wrong. The two races intergrade and individuals with intermediate morphometrics and moult patterns have been recorded. To make matters worse, tundrae becomes larger again, further east in Siberia. Ringed Plovers are anything but simple!