Kentish Plover Status Assessment Project

Phase One

Monitoring of Western Breeding Population of Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus)









Since American races of Kentish Plover has been split, it became a strictly Eurasian species having a huge range from extreme western Europe to far eastern Asia. The mainly coastal species have been reported to suffer population decrease throughout its range (BirdLife International, 2004). Population figures, where available, shows that its unstable population is in trouble, which requires immediate actions to be set to prevent further declines and disappearance.


In 1990 the International Wader Study Group initiated a special project (P.E. Jönsson et al, 1990) Kentish Plover to understand more of the status of the species by having actual population figures and trends where possible. Disturbance of coastal habitats, environmental pollution and other anthropogenic effects are the primary drivers of the population decrease of Kentish Plover.


As there are increasing concerns about the sustainability and fragmentation of the western population of C. a. alexandrinus subspecies of Kentish Plover, urgent action has to be taken to see clearly the current status of the nominate subspecies. 



The project is intended to provide...

  • the actual numbers of the western breeding population of C. a. alexandinus subspecies of Kentish Plover;
  • the best population estimate for the more precise IUCN Red List classification;
  • historical data on population size on country level;
  • list of recommendations and proposals for implementation to stop further decline of Kentish Plover through its range;
  • list of key breeding sites for preserving the future of Kentish Plover within its western Eurasian range.


Of the three subspecies of Kentish Plover, the nominate race, Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus is in the project scope. Eastern populations of C. a. alexandrinus is not included in the project as other subspecies neither however data of those breeding populations is more than welcome.



Phase One - March 2011 - July 2012: field surveys

Phase Two - July 2012 - October 2012: data analysis and completing status assessment


Geographical scope

Phase One focuses on breeding population survey in the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Canary Islands (Spain), Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, w Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Gibraltal (UK).



The target of field surveys is to get a picture of the densities of breeding population of Kentish Plover through its western range. Kentish Plover, as plovers are in general, is quite territorial and easy to see on the open grounds. They are breeding particularly on coastal habitats but inland populations (salt pans, soda steppes etc.) also prefer open areas with low or no vegetation. Within the project single territory mapping method have to be used. At least 4 visits are needed to determine the number of breeding pairs between 15 March and 15 June. Males or pairs have to be marked on each visit on the map of the survey area. 


At least one of the following conditions should be available to say breeding is confirmed:

  • Occupied nest: Adult seen sitting on nest and likely incubating eggs or brooding hatchlings. No eggs or young seen.
  • Carrying nesting material: Carrying nesting material, such as stones, seashells, grass, etc.
  • Nest making: Not typical for shorebirds but might be observed as building hollow at the actual nest-site.
  • Distraction display: It is an anti-predator behaviour used to attract the attention of an enemy away from an object, typically the nest or young, that is being protected.
  • Used nest or eggshells: Caution: these must be carefully identified if they are to be accepted.
  • Precocial young: Flightless young of precocial species restricted to the natal area by dependence on adults or limited mobility.
  • Recently fledged young: Incapable of sustained flight, restricted to natal area by dependence on adults or limited mobility.
  • Nest with egg(s): Do not approach nests to check contents! If you have the time to watch a bird through binoculars or with a scope, watch as the incubating bird turns the eggs in the nest.

Breeding is probable when only the following conditions are available:

  • Presumed territory through song: Species heard at same location on at least two occasions, 7 days (or more) apart.
  • Presumed territory through defense of territory: Often one male chasing another. This is a tricky code to use, and if the bird is watched longer, you'll probably find better evidence.
  • Agitated behavior or anxiety calls: Calls from adults. These calls are frequently directed at cats, snakes or any predator or intruder.
  • Courtship behavior: Some species have courtship rituals (like Buff-breasted Sandpiper), some have spectacular courtship displays (like Northern Lawing).

Data submission

Data after each breeding season should be submitted to WorldWaders dedicated database ( The simplified data entry form requests only a few details to be shared to meet the target of the project. As Kentish Plover is often forming breeding colonies we require the total number of breeding pairs of a well defined area (e.g. islets, salt pans). No need to enter individual territories into the database however it is possible. Is should be the personal preference of the submitter.



Monitoring the breeding population of C. a. alexandrinus have to be repeated in every five years and action plan should be reviewed accordingly.

©, 2010