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Greater and Lesser Sand Plover
Charadrius leschenaultii and Charadrius mongolus

The Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers (the latter known also as the Mongolian Plover for some races) are two quite similar waders that visit Australia for the Southern Summer from Asia, but can occasionally straggle as far as Britain. They are quite small with the Greater at 22-25 cm and Lesser at 18-21 cm and the size difference is a useful diagnostic in mixed flocks as they are similar in all plumages. One of the other useful tools for differentiation is the length of the bill, with the Greater's bill being proportionally larger. They both live in the same habitats, mainly breeding in treeless plains near water and wintering on muddy and sandy beaches. Both birds feed by making short runs and then pausing to look for worms, crustaceans and molluscs. The first photo is a of non-breeding Greater Sand Plover, the last is of a non-breeding Lesser and the middle two are comparision photos of the two species.

Greater Sand Plover

Greater and Lesser Sand Plover

Greater and Lesser Sand Plover

Lesser Sand Plover

1-4: Cairns Esplanade, Qld, 17/10/2010.