Ringed plovers are small, dumpy waders, brownish-grey above, white below with strong black bands on the head and neck. The eastern coast of the wash, around Snettisham and Heacham, the north Norfolk Coast between Hunstanton and Weybourne and Winterton-on-Sea are all important nesting areas.
Like terns, they nest in shingly areas near the top of beaches, often with sparse vegetation. Nest are similar, too shallow scrapes with well camouflaged eggs. But unlike terns, they nest individually, not colonially which increases their vulnerability. Some nest near tern colonies and so get some protection from predators through this, as well as from human disturbance by the cordons but many nest in more isolated places. The chicks are able to run very quickly after hatching and families feed on small creatures in the intertidal sand and mud, further down the beach from the nesting areas.
Because the nesting birds, the nest, the eggs and the young chicks are superbly camouflaged, its very difficult to spot them. Its quite possible for people to tread on a nest without realising, or to keep birds away from a nest so the eggs cool or are taken by predators or even for a dog to take an egg or chick without owners realising.
What you can do to help
Avoid shingly areas near the top of beaches during April July
Keep a sharp eye out for small waders with chicks on the beach and give them a wide berth.