Upper plumage dusky brown, variegated with white and ash-colour; breast and belly white with dark spots (winter), or of a uniform deep black (summer).
V. melanogaster, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. II. p. 547. Gray Plover, Selb. Must. vol. ii. p. 227. pl. 35. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. II. p. 83. Gray Sandpiper, Mont. Orn. Diet.
Entire length eleven inches six lines: length of the bill (from the forehead) one inch and half a line, (from the gape) one inch three lines and a half; of the tarsus one inch eleven lines; of the naked part of the tibia ten lines; of the tail three inches; from the carpus to the end of the wing seven inches eleven lines: breadth, wings extended, twenty-five inches six lines.
(Winter plumage). Forehead and chin white; streak over the eyes, fore part of the neck, sides of the breast, and flanks, white, variegated with spots of brown and ash-colour: head, and all the upper parts of the body, dusky brown, the feathers edged and tipped with grayish white: belly, abdomen, thighs, and upper tail-coverts, pure white: beneath the wing some long black feathers arising from the axilla: tail white, towards the tip reddish, with transverse brown bars which become paler and less numerous on the lateral feathers: bill black: irides dusky: feet blackish gray. (Summer plumage). Space between the eye and the bill, throat, sides and fore part of the neck, middle of the breast, belly and flanks, deep black; forehead, a broad streak above the eyes continued down the sides of the neck and breast and bounding the black on those parts, thighs and abdomen, pure white: crown and occiput cinereous brown, with the shafts of the feathers black; nape variegated with brown, black, and white; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts, black, all the feathers broadly tipped and barred with white. (Young of the year). Somewhat similar to the adult bird in winter plumage: the spots on the sides of the breast and flanks larger, but of a paler tint: upper parts of a uniform light gray, variegated with whitish spots; the transverse bars on the tail gray. (Egg). Light clay-brown, spotted and streaked all over with dark brown: long. diam. one inch ten lines; trans, diam. one inch four lines.
Found on many parts of the British coast during the autumn and winter months, but not in very great abundance. Retires northward to breed. Feeds on worms and marine insects. Lays four eggs.
(2. Vanellus, Cuv).