Waders are tricky chaps to identify in general so it is a relief when one sees some, even from a long way off, and you know immediately what they are. The ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is aptly named and, for once, the name gives the clue to identification. The ringed plover has two rings around its neck. Not actual rings of course, but colouration rings. One is white and the other black and these rings stand out clearly, even at some distance. They are unlikely to be mistaken for any other bird except the little ringed plover!
Once a relatively common breeding bird on the shores of Dorset sadly this is no longer the case. They like shingle to nest on but increased disturbance from walkers, dogs and even boats off shore have contributed to a decline to the point where less than five pairs now breed here. As a result it is now seen as a passage migrant in spring and autumn with a number staying over winter in Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour and at Ferrybridge.
They are a bird that likes clear muddy stretches to feed on at low tide and that is the best time to see them as they are then out in the open. You are unlikely to the see the rare little ringed plover in a similar environment so confusion should not really be an issue.