The debate may still be ongoing in some circles whether the ‘White-faced Plovers’ first noted in Malaysia, Singapore etc are a full species or a form of Kentish Plover (though the consensus is that they are indeed a rare and long overlooked full species – as in Peter Kennerly’s et al’s paper in ‘Forktail’ [Kennerley, P. R. Bakewell, D. N., Round, P. D. (2008) Rediscovery of a long-lost Charadrius plover from South-East Asia. Forktail 24: 63-79] which says that “these birds are Aegialites [Charadrius] dealbatus, described by Robert Swinhoe in 1870 as a species distinct from Kentish Plover. Subsequent confusion has resulted in this name being applied to the form of Kentish Plover that occurs in abundance in East and South-East Asia, while the true taxon dealbatus has been overlooked by almost all subsequent taxonomists, and mistakenly described and illustrated as Kentish Plover in all studies of this taxon“).
One element of this taxon’s life history that has so far been lacking is knowledge of the breeding grounds (which will be essential for its conservation). That mystery has to some extent just been solved by Brian Jones in China who has just reported seeing 279 White-faced Plovers on beaches in Guangdong Province!
A brief blog report with photos is here: http://birdingbeijing.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/over-250-white-faced-swinhoes-plovers-in-guangdong-province-china/
An excellent photo showing a White-faced with a Kentish can be found in the Surfbirds gallery at http://www.surfbirds.com/media/gallery_photos/20110106033316.jpg
These birds are probably short-distance migrants moving between southern China and south-east Asia – but could one ever appear in South Korea?