European Golden Plovers operate in flocks, sometimes of two or three thousand but more often of a few hundred or less. They breed on moors, heaths, peatlands and tundra from Iceland and Ireland to northern Europe and western Siberia. They move in winter to western Europe and parts of the Mediterranean and Caspian regions. In Britain they breed in upland areas in Scotland, northern England, Wales and, until recently, in a few locations in southwest England.
    In Wiltshire during the 19th century the species was recorded widely but sparingly in winter throughout the county, and it continued to be regarded as a fairly common winter visitor during the 20th century. There is no record of the species ever having attempted to breed in the county although late departing or early returning individuals have been recorded in every summer month.
    The partial winter tetrad surveys conducted for Birds of Wiltshire found Golden Plovers in only 7% of tetrads surveyed, indicating a total of around 65 tetrads for the county as a whole. WTA2 found them in 244. However, too much significance cannot be attached to this apparent quadrupling of coverage since the records show considerable variations, up and down, between one winter and another and the two winters when the tetrad counts for Birds of Wiltshire were carried out happened to be years in which the numbers were particularly low. It is likely that the long-term trend will have been more in line with the national increase of 19% between the 1981-84 Winter Atlas and Bird Atlas 2007-2011.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.