Plovers and Lapwings in East Africa
Shorebirds – Order Charadriiformes has a large variety of birds from small to large. Most of them live near water, but some inhabit forest or even deserts. Some are pelagic which means living in the open sea. They feed on invertebrates and other small animals. Since a good number are migrants, they have long, sharp ending wings. To keep the feathers functioning they bath in fresh water and apply the oily secretion from the preen gland.
Due to the many families and species in this order we had to split them into several pages.
Plovers, Lapwings & Dotterels – Family Charadriidae. Most species are found near fresh water or at the shores of the Indian Ocean. Some of the smaller species are migrants from the North, larger species or lapwings are residents or intra-African migrants. They build a simple nest on the ground and the young move after hatching. The parents can divert predators by making noise or pretending they are injured. Still the young are vulnerable especially where there are many Marabou Storks. Some Lapwings are very good in warning of danger and can also mob predators.
Plovers and Lapwings from common to rare or endemic
To give you as actual information as possible we use Avibase, the books “Birds of South of the Sahara”, “Birds of East Africa”, “Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania”. Then we put the most characteristic information to the photo.
You can also follow us on Facebook “Bird photography Safaris Kenya” and see the numerous species as well as the beautiful photos from Lorenzo Barelli.
Due to the different habitats they inhabit you won’t find them at the same place. Travelling or several visits concentrating on some species are required and advised. Some are found at the coast and others far inland. But if you have time we take you to different places with enough time to search for the species you would like to see.
Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus pamirensis) breeds from Pamir to China and winters in Africa along the coast and at lakes. Breeding plumage, non breeding is brownish with whitish and not easy to identify. Photo Per Holmen
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii scythicus) spends the North summer in Transcapia to SE Kazakhstan. From August to May they are found along African coasts and some inland lakes. Photo Per Holmen
Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) breeds at the Caspian sea to extreme West China and winters in East and South Africa from August to April on short grass plains. Photo left non breeding, Masai Mara, right spring plumage by Per Holmen
White-fronted Plover or Sandplover (Charadrius marginatus mechowi). It is found along the Ocean, estuaries and larger inland rivers and pans in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Photo Jacques Pitteloud
Kittlitz’s Plover (Charadrius pecuarius) is common and widespread in Africa near water. Photo by Lorenzo Barelli
Kentish Plover (Charadrius a. alexandrinus) might be best found in East Africa at Lake Turkana, scarce at other lakes in and near Rift Valley. It is a not very common palearctic migrant.
Common ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula tundrae) is a common palearctic migrant to African wetlands from September to May. They breed in N Scandinavia to Eastern Siberia. Photo Per Holmen
Little ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius curonicus) is a quite uncommon palearctic migrant to East to West Africa from September to April. They are found near water. Photo Jacques Pitteloud
Three-banded Plover (Charadrius t. tricollaris) is widespread and common in Afrika near water.
Chestnut-banded Plover (Charadrius pallidus venustus) is only found at the Kenyan-Tanzanian border like the soda Lakes Magadi, Natron to Lake Ndutu. Photo Per Holmen
Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) is an uncommon palearctic migrant. In East Africa it is found long the Indian Ocean shore and Lake Turkana. They breed in Siberia and West Alaska. Photo Per Holmen
Grey or black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) holarctic and almost cosmopolitan along coasts and Great Rift Valley lakes when not breeding. Photo Lorenzo Barelli
Long-toad Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus c. crassirostris) likes marshes and floodplains. Its long toes allow it to walk on floating plants. Common and quite wide spread.
Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus armatus) occurs at wetland margins and adjoining grassland. They can be numerous and are good warners with their metallic call.
Spur-winged Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus spinosus) is widespread from East to West Africa at water bodies. They are also good warners of approaching danger.
White-headed or white-crowned Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus albiceps) is a more Westafrican species but also found in S and SW Tanzania at sandy river banks. Photo Per Holmen
Black-headed Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus tectus latifrons) is endemic in dry open areas in Eastern Kenya and Somalia.
Black-headed Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellust. tectus) occurs in NW Kenya to Northern Uganda to West Africa. Photo Per Holmen, Lake Baringo
Senegal (lesser black-winged Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus lugubris) is an uncommon resident and migrant to short grass plains or recently burnt areas in quite many countries in Africa. Photo Lorenzo Barelli
Black-winged Plover (Vanellus melanopterus minor) is found on high elevation grassland locally from East to Southern Africa. Masai Mara
Crowned Lapwing Plover (Vanellus c. coronatus) is common on short grass from East to Southern Africa. They are excellent warners, here in warning pose.