Sand plover revelation

Greater Sand Plover (c)kavisuman.comA Rocha Kenya’s field study centre is close to the fabulous Mida Creek: flocks of up to 10,000 waders and terns can be watched here at high tide roosts, and so we have been studying the waders for 18 years. As part of his PhD research, Scientific Director Colin Jackson has been marking Greater Sand Plovers Charadrius leschenaultii as so little is known about their origins or migration routes. This involves fitting a coloured ‘flag’ with a two letter combination which can be read from a distance, onto a leg. On 16 September 2013 he orange-flagged a bird which he had previously caught and ringed (as an adult) nine years earlier. It was spotted by Prashant Tewari in Kutch, Western India, on 10 April 2015: the first Greater Sand Plover, ringed in East Africa, to be discovered anywhere!

This year, Jaysukh Parekh Suman photographed the same bird, on the same beach, on 29 March. The fact that it has been seen twice, and in the same place, is extraordinary – and suggest that this species, like many others, is site faithful on migration.  We can’t be sure, but it is likely to be heading for breeding grounds in Kazakhstan or western Mongolia.

Colin has also put white tags on Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus – if you have the opportunity to look for them – please do!

You could play an important part in revealing their movements.

Greater Sand Plover - cropped (Jaysukh Parekh Suman)

The Greater Sand Plover spotted on the beach in Kutch, Western India. (Photos: Jaysukh Parekh Suman)

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