Ringed plover adult amongst razorshells at Titchwell beach, Norfolk

Red alert: helping ringed plovers

John Sharpe, Conservation Manager in Eastern England, reports on helping ringed plovers.

Our work for ringed plovers

Ringed plovers are appealing little birds, starling sized and neatly patterned. They are found on sandy shingle beaches, and gravel pits or wetland sites inland.

As breeding birds, they are only really seen on the west coast of Scotland. Wintering birds arrive from the Continent, but some ringed plovers are with us all year. Sadly, they were recently added to the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern due to declines in their wintering numbers.

The reasons are currently unknown. All of the key estuaries for ringed plovers are protected under national and international legislation and RSPB teams work hard to ensure that coastal habitat is not lost or degraded. In particular, we seek to prevent disturbance of high tide roosts.

Breeding birds are also in decline, although to a lesser extent than wintering birds.

Our reserves provide important breeding sites where we can safeguard them from disturbance. Ringed plovers also benefit from the work we are doing for little terns through a five-year EU LIFE+ project. Fencing, signage, public education, close control of dogs and seasonal access restrictions may all be applied.

We also provide advice on reducing disturbance in popular recreational areas where they breed.

We're currently pulling together all our information on ringed plover declines so that we can best plan our next steps to conserve this engaging bird. We'll keep you updated on our next steps.

Thank you for all your support.

How you can help

Ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula on the artificial lagoon; high tide wader roost at Freiston Shore RSPB reserve, on The Wash. Lincolnshire, England.

Thank you for what you're already doing to help our projects in the UK and abroad - we couldn't do it without you. If you feel you can donate some additional money at this time, it will help us achieve even more.