Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)

Arctic migrant.

 

The Pacific golden plover breeds in Siberia and Alaska, so it's only seen in NZ in our summer. You'll see it feeding on the estuary mudflats. The Manawatu Estuary hosts about 5% of the national population.

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In non-breeding plumage the Pacific golden plover blends into its feeding grounds on the edges of salt marshes, being a mottled dark brown and buff on top with some hints of gold. It has a short black beak and grey legs, with a pale stripe above the eye, a pale forehead, and pale underparts, with some dull yellow-gold colour and dark speckled markings on the throat. It differs from the rarely seen grey plover in having a smaller bill and having yellow-gold colour in its feathers; this colour also separates it from the New Zealand dotterel.

 

Usually it is seen in small flocks. It feeds by making short runs, stopping abruptly when it sees something on the surface of the mud, and then snatching at what it's spotted.