Greater Sand Plovers

Greater Sand Plovers (Charadrius leschenaultii)

The Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, is a small wader in the plover family of birds. The spelling is commonly given as greater sand plover, but the official British Ornithologists’ Union spelling is greater sand plover.

Its scientific name commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

The Greater Sand Plovers is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

The Three Greater Sand Plovers in the Beach
The Three Greater Sand Plovers in the Beach

Distribution / Range

It breeds in the semi-deserts of Turkey and eastwards through central Asia. It nests in a bare ground scrape. This species is strongly migratory, wintering on sandy beaches in East Africa, South Asia, and Australasia. It is a rare vagrant in Western Europe, where it has been recorded as far west as Great Britain and France.



This chunky plover is long-legged and thick-billed.

Breeding males have grey backs and white underparts. The breast, forehead, and nape are chestnut, and there is a black eye mask.

The female is duller, and winter and juvenile birds lack the chestnut, apart from a hint of rufous on the head. The legs are greenish and the bill black.

In all plumages, it is very similar to Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus. Separating the species may be straightforward in mixed wintering flocks on an Indian beach, where the difference in size and structure is obvious; it is another thing altogether to identify a lone vagrant in Western Europe, where both species are very rare. The problem is compounded in that the Middle Eastern race of the greater sand plover is the most similar to the lesser species.

Closeup Image of a Greater Sand Plovers
Closeup Image of a Greater Sand Plover

Diet / Feeding

Its food consists of insects, crustaceans, and annelid worms, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups.


Calls / Vocalization

Its flight call is a soft trill.


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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