Little ringed plover
Little ringed plovers are unusual among waders that breed in the New Forest as they are a summer visitor. They arrive in March, breed and then leave in August.
They only colonised Britain in the 1940s and have bred annually in Hampshire since 1971. Although fairly widespread across central and southern England they are still uncommon, and they are rare or absent from Wales, Scotland, northern England or south west England.
Little ringed plovers breed on bare stony ground in open areas by freshwater. Occasionally, shingle river islands are used, but they are mostly seen around gravel pits and reservoirs. Around the New Forest they only regularly breed at the complex of lakes at Blashford just north of Ringwood – try looking from the Tern Hide from mid-March to May. You may also see them displaying on the shingle islands and banks of the coastal lagoons between Keyhaven and Lymington.
ID tip – Little ringed plovers are brown above and white below with black and white stripes on the head and a short beak. They are very similar to ringed plovers but have a yellow ring around the eye, flesh-brown legs, black bill and no white bar on the wing when they fly.
Photo credit: Simon Curson – Little ringed plover