Over the last few weeks reports have been coming in of a flock of Golden Plover that have been spending the cold mornings in a crop field at Heathrow. Luckily for me this field is practically next door to where I work, so this morning I took my camera with me, left home 30 minutes earlier than normal and managed to get photos of a very decent sized c100 flock of these charismatic little birds.
I have seen Golden Plover flying over Cranford Park before, but I didn't have the same lovely views as I did of them this morning. The flock sizes reported over the last few weeks have ranged from 40-150 birds, and it does seem that the colder the weather, the more birds there are.
The Golden Plover is a medium-sized plover. In the breeding season, it's plumage is speckled gold and black above with a black face and underparts - the underparts and face framed with a white border. In the winter they moult into a more uniform golden plumage, with a slightly paler, buff underside.
In winter Golden Plovers can be found on coastal marshes and estuaries, on wetlands and inland on agricultural land in the lowlands of Britain and Ireland. In the breeding season, the majority are in the uplands, with the main breeding population in north-west Britain.