The Lesser Sand Plover is a small to medium-sized grey-brown and white plover which has a dark eye-stripe and which reaches 18–21 cm in length and 56–71 g in weight. Sexes differ when in breeding plumage, but are inseparable when in non-breeding plumage. Juveniles are distinguishable. In breeding plumage, the male has a grey-brown crown and nape with a chestnut tinge, with the hindneck and sides of the neck chestnut; the rest of the upperparts are grey-brown. The face has a broad black mask which extends from the base of the bill, through the eye, to the ear-coverts, with a second black stripe above it, on the lower forehead, separated by a white patch. The eyebrow is pale and the chin and throat are white. The breast is chestnut and merges into the hindneck and the sides of the neck. It is demarcated from the throat by a narrow black band, with a narrow black line which extends down from the mask. The rest of the underbody is white. The upperwings are generally grey-brown, though in flight the primary coverts and flight feathers are blackish, with thin white trailing edges on the secondaries and there is a prominent but narrow white wing-bar. The underwing is white with a narrow dusky trailing edge. The bill is black, the eyes dark brown, and the legs and feet are dark grey, sometimes with a greenish tinge. The female appears similar except her mask is dark grey-brown or rufous, not black; there is no second dark stripe on the lower forehead; the crown, hindneck, sides of the neck and the breast-band are duller chestnut; and there is no black line bordering the breast-band. In non-breeding plumage, both species appear similar, with all black or chestnut markings of the breeding plumage now grey-brown. Juvenile birds are similar to non-breeding birds, but have buff fringes to their feathers, and the breast-band is indistinct. The Lesser Sand Plover is often gregarious during the non-breeding season, when it occurs in small parties or larger flocks of up to several hundred birds, though it sometimes feeds singly. They often join other waders when feeding or roosting, especially the Greater Sand Plover (Charadruis leschenaultii) though the two species usually remain segregated when roosting together. In New Zealand, they often flock with Double-banded Plovers (C. bicinctus).
Lesser Sand Plover |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
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Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Charadrius mongolus
Global warming and associated changes in sea level are likely to have a long term impact on the breeding; staging and non breeding grounds of migratory shorebirds (Harding et al. 2007).