Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Greater sand plover

Thai: นกหัวโตทรายใหญ่, nok hua to thray yai

Binomial name: Charadrius leschenaultii, Rene Primevere Lesson, 1826

The Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) is a small wader in the plover family of birds. The spelling is commonly given as "Greater Sandplover" or "Greater Sand-Plover", but the official British Ornithologists' Union spelling is "Greater Sand Plover".

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, France and Iceland. It has been spotted twice in the Western Hemisphere, the most recent being on May 14, 2009, in Jacksonville, Florida.

There are three subspecies: The nominate, C. l. columbinus and C. l. scythicus. The last was known as C. l. crassirostris until it was established that this name is pre-occupied by a subspecies of Wilson's Plover, C. w. crassirostris.

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. 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 to 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.

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.

Its flight call is a soft trill.

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

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

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Charadriidae
Genus
Charadrius
Species
Charadrius leschenaultii

Common names

  • English:
    • Greater sand plover
    • Large sand dotterel
  • French: Pluvier du désert
  • Thai: นกหัวโตทรายใหญ่, nok hua to thray yai

Subspecies

  • Charadrius leschenaultii columbinus (nominate), Johann Georg Wagler, 1829

  • Charadrius leschenaultii crassirostris, Nikolai Alekseevich Severtsov, 1873

  • Charadrius leschenaultii scythicus, Caio Jose Carlos, Cees S. Roselaar & Jean-François Voisin, 2012

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Greater sand plover, Charadrius leschenaultii in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Bang Pakong District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Libong
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Pak Thale
  • Pathio District, Chumphon
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • Sattahip District, Chonburi
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Suk Samran District, Ranong
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park

Range map of Charadrius leschenaultii in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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