Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Lesser sand plover

Thai: นกหัวโตทรายเล็ก, nok hua to thray lek

Binomial name: Charadrius mongolus, Peter Simon Pallas, 1776

The lesser sand plover (Charadrius mongolus) is a small wader in the plover family of birds. The spelling is commonly given as lesser sandplover, but the official British Ornithologists' Union spelling is "Lesser Sand Plover".

There are five races, and the large east Asian forms, C. m. mongolus and C. m. stegmanni, are sometimes given specific status as Mongolian plover, Charadrius mongolus. If the taxonomic split is accepted, lesser sand plover as then defined becomes Charadrius atrifrons, including the three races atrifrons, pamirensis and schaeferi.

It breeds above the tree line in the Himalayas and discontinuously across to bare coastal plains in north-eastern Siberia, with the Mongolian plover in the eastern part of the range; it has also bred in Alaska. It nests in a bare ground scrape, laying three eggs. This species is strongly migratory, wintering on sandy beaches in east Africa, south Asia and Australasia. It is a very rare vagrant in western Europe, but, surprisingly, of the three individuals recorded in Great Britain up to 2003, one was a Mongolian plover.

This chunky plover is long-legged and long-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 dark and the bill black.

In all plumages, this species is very similar to greater sand plover, Charadrius leschenaultii. 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 greater sand plover is the most similar to Lesser. Lesser usually has darker legs, a white forehead, and a more even white wing bar than greater.

The lesser sand plover's food is insects, crustaceans and annelid worms, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups. This species takes fewer steps and shorter pauses than the greater sand plover when feeding.

The flight call is a hard trill.

The lesser sand plover is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Identification

Size is one of the factors distinguishing a lesser sand plover from a greater sand plover, with the lesser being slightly smaller. However, it is not easy to rely on size alone especially when seen individually. The length of the bill is another distinguishing feature, with the lesser generally having a shorter bill compared to a greater. The colour of the legs in a lesser sand plover is generally darker, ranging from black to grey, while in a greater sand plover it is much paler, ranging from grey to yellowish.

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Videos of Lesser sand plover

  • Lesser sand plover

    Lesser sand plover

Scientific classification

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

Common names

  • English:
    • Lesser sand plover
    • Mongolian dotterel
    • Mongolian plover
  • French: Pluvier de Mongolie
  • Thai: นกหัวโตทรายเล็ก, nok hua to thray lek

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Lesser sand plover, Charadrius mongolus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Bang Pakong District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khung Kraben Non-hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Libong
  • Ko Phayam
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • 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 Ratchaburi District, Ratchaburi
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Mueang Trat District, Trat
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Thale
  • Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Suk Samran District, Ranong
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Thalang District, Phuket
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
  • Thung Tako District, Chumphon

Range map of Charadrius mongolus 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 and Parinya Pawangkhanant for their help with many range data.

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