It was not too surprising to come across a COMMON RINGED PLOVER on the beach at Biscay Bay, Avalon Peninsula. A distinct pattern has developed over the last decade showing that small numbers of Common Ringed Plover migrate south through Newfoundland. Whether they are headed for European wintering grounds or they stay with the abundant Semipalmated Plovers and winter on this side of the Atlantic is unknown but the latter seems like a sensible thing to adapt to. There are no confirmed spring records of Common Ringed Plover for the island of Newfoundland even though the species breeds in the eastern Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Iceland. Semipalmated Plover is on the rare side in spring even though a few breed in Newfoundland. Semipalmated Plover a very common southbound migrant in Newfoundland.
Today 29 July 2017 Ken Knowles, John Wells and I found a Common Ringed Plover at Biscay Bay. The highly demarcated black markings on the head are what grabs your attention . The breast band on this bird meets the requirement width for Ringed Plover but was not as wide as most of the others we've had. The long white supercilium is partially lost in low contrast with pale upper parts bit still good. Other pro Common Ringed Plovers are, 1) dark orbital ring showing no contrast with dark eye, very clearly seen through scopes, 2) white of forehead curved beneath eye to midway point. 3) cheek patch very black with lower side more flat or parallel to the ground than the more oval shaped cheek patch of Semi Plover, 4) dark lores clearly reach gape line or go slightly below, 5) bill longer than Semi Plovers with black tip covering less than 50% of of bill, 6) wing strip slightly whiter and wider.
It was bigger than the 11 Semipalmated Plovers by a few percentage points. Looked strong, more elongated, less like a windup toy Semi Plover. This bird ran faster and farther every time it ran. Don't know if this is significant. The colour of the legs and bill base were a brighter somewhat more yellow-orange. The upper parts were paler by a little. This helped the black head markings look much bolder and vivid than the Semi Plovers. It was easy to pick out by the bold contrasts.
All pictures below taken 29 July 2017 at Biscay Bay, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland.
Note white wrapping half way under the eye, the lack of yellow orbital ring, the crisp black head markings, bill colour proportions and relatively straight side to lower border of black cheek patch.
The Common Ringed Plover is farther away than the Semipalmated Plover but still looks bigger and stronger than the dull, perhaps female Semipalmated Plover. The Common Ringed Plover has a somewhat Killdeer shape and stance.
The whiter, slightly broader wing strip of the Common Ringed Plover is somewhat apparent in the photo below. The Ringed Plover is in the lead bird being followed by four Semipalmated Plovers and a Sanderling.
The Common Ringed Plover is farthest away on left side of picture. Note the bold contrast of head markings and a well dressed appearance compared to the Semipalmated Plover riffraff.
Not satisfied with the amount of time able to be spent with the Common Ringed Plover on Saturday, I went back on a wet and rainy Sunday. Armed with more powerful photographic gear, I was happy to find it still there. With myself and camera gear covered in waterproof material we took a few hundred pictures over about 45 minutes. I guess it was the more relaxed mood of the bird that made the breast band wider today. Yesterday's pictures show the bird standing more upright long-legged and long-necked. The CRPL was running around in hurry yesterday compared to a more relaxed mood today. All the birds seemed up tight yesterday sometimes flushing without apparent reason. Perhaps there had been a Merlin in the area. Today the birds were more subdued with no flushes.
The pictures below were all taken at Biscay Bay on 30 July 2017. Note that the last five pictures contain at least one Semipalmated Plover. It should be easy to see them.
Two Semipalmated Plovers (above)