|At iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa|
The white-fronted plover or white-fronted sandplover (Charadrius marginatus) is a small wader. This plover is resident in much of Africa south of the Sahara on rocky, sandy or muddy coasts as well as large inland rivers and lakes.
Adults are 16–18 cm in length, and are paler than similar species. The breeding adult has medium brown upperparts, with a white hind neck collar and a brilliant white forehead extending back in a conspicuous wedge between the eye and the crown. There is a black line through the eye and a black frontal bar to the crown. The underparts are white with a variable cream or buff wash to the breast. There may be rufous or reddish-brown patches on the breast sides. The bill is black and the legs yellowish-grey.
Non-breeding adults are greyer than the breeding birds, and the black head marking are replaced by brown. The frontal bar may be absent in some females. The juvenile white-fronted plover resembles the non-breeding adult, but has white underparts and no black on the head.
Habitat and call
The white-fronted plover's breeding habitat is sandy beaches; the eggs are laid directly on the sand, and may be buried. The adults will take water to the nest in their breast feathers. It feeds actively with fast runs like a sanderling, usually hunting by sight for insects, crustaceans and worms. This is a gregarious species which forms flocks, often with other waders.
The call is a clear wiit, and there is a tukut alarm note.
Humans can disturb the bird when nesting, although they tend to just have more nest attentiveness. As a result the nest temperature is kept the same for the eggs. Over all this has seen greater survival of chicks as the increased human presence means that the plovers are habituated to humans, but corvids and rats that eat from the plover nests are discouraged. Dogs can have a negative effect on nests.
There are four or five subspecies, which vary in the colour shade of the neck collar and breast:
- C. marginatus arenaceus (Clancey, 197)1 - S Mozambique to SW Cape.
- C. marginatus marginatus (Vieillot, 1818) - S Angola to SW Cape.
- C. marginatus mechowi (Cabanis, 1884) - locally in Africa S of Sahara to N Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe and N Mozambique.
- C. marginatus tenellus (Hartlaub, 1861) - Madagascar.
- C. marginatus pons (not accepted by all authorities)
- BirdLife International (2012). "Charadrius marginatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- [DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2007.00126.x]
- Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa (Struik 2002) ISBN 1-86872-721-1
- Hayman, Marchant and Prater Shorebirds ISBN 0-395-60237-8
- White-fronted plover - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.