Ringed plovers breed all around Britain’s coastline, including Hampshire, and they also occur inland in many areas.
They nest on bare ground, such as shingle and sandy beaches, and rely on their camouflage when sitting on the nest. The eggs and chicks are very well camouflaged too. Ringed plovers are vulnerable to disturbance and successful breeding will only occur along the less disturbed beaches or areas without public access.
If breeding ringed plovers are disturbed near the nest they can entice the predator away in a novel way – they pretend to be injured. The adult will flap along the ground as if it has a broken wing and run away from the nest. A predator such as a fox (or an inquisitive human) will follow the adult away from the nest. Once far enough away, the adult flies off and will only return to the nest when danger has past.
In the New Forest, the best place to see ringed plovers is along the coast. The area between Keyhaven and Lymington is particularly good – they breed around the pools or on small islands within the pools that lie just inland of the sea wall walkway.
ID tip – 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 little ringed plovers but lack a yellow eye ring, have brighter yellow-orange legs and beak and have a white wing-bar visible in flight.