Charadrius hiaticula

Range & Status

Palearctic; in Britain and Ireland 8500 pairs breed (chiefly Scotland); 34,500 winter (66% of the European total).

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: no longer breeds, but widespread on passage (totalling up to 700 in August) and in winter (150 to 200 in total); numbers are declining. The chief sites are the Hayle and Camel estuaries (both have up to 250 in autumn). Isles of Scilly: 40 breeding pairs; winter total 280-300, possibly up to 500 (a figure of National Importance).

Habitat & Ecology

Confined to sandy and shingle beaches when breeding. More widespread on coastal sand and shingle areas of estuaries at other times.


Human disturbance on beaches has eliminated it from the Cornish mainland as a breeding species.


Most sites are SSSI. Protected under Annexe 11 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).