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Ageing indicators broadly similar to those for Grey Plover apply to the plumage of juvenile, 1w and winter adult Golden Plover.
Juvenile and 1w birds have tertials with distinct gold spotting (or dogtooth), with yellowish fringing broken at the tips of the tertials. With good views in the field, these broken tips will be the best indicator of a juvenile or 1w bird. The overall appearance of the juvenile is yellow/golden spangled upperparts and wing coverts, with fine spotting on the breast. Note that, like Grey Plover, 1w birds can retain most or all of their juvenile plumage through their 2 cy, only breeding and (therefore) attaining adult plumage in their 3 cy.
Winter adult birds have an overall appearance less bright and spangled than J and 1w birds. Tertials are faded barred, and fringed whitish-yellow around the tip which, unlike the tips of juvenile tertials, is unbroken. Adults coming into non-breeding plumage around September time will have faded coverts with an overall buff appearance (contrasting with juvenile brighter coverts), and winter adults will have whitish tips to the coverts, which explains the whitish-buff tones of the winter adult's closed wing, contrasting with the brighter, spangled appearance of the juvenile/1w closed wing. Winter adults show streaking on the breast. Note that adults can commence pre-breeding moult as early as February.
1w bird told by dogtooth and broken tips on tertials
2cy bird (told by rings) in Feb showing abraded juvenile tertial with notching and broken tip, and adult non-breeding tertial with unbroken tip. Note worn, faded wing coverts, whereas by Feb some adults will have commenced their pre-breeding moult. Image: Matt Prior
Click here for more species of shorebird and wader in our guide to identification and plumage.