Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Dotterel.

Dotterel. Mike Watson

Sad isn't it....if you go back in time to around 90 years ago you would find in the 1920's the numbers of Dotterel were beginning to show signs of a slight recovery from the days even further back in time when annual slaughters of the species were taking place in areas like Pilling and Winmarleigh when - according to Mitchell - 'hundreds' were being shot each year. It is interesting that the same F.S.Mitchell reported very few records from the fells, adding to this remark that they no longer appear on Pendle Hill. 

Thankfully today quite the reverse is the case and Pendle Hill plays host on an annual basis to this familiar and amazingly tame spring migrant which shows a remarkable fidelity to its staging areas, sometimes even to the very same field. Ward Stone is another example of an annual - or near annual - area where Dotterel can be found and in fact breeding was reported here in 1983.  

By the end of the 1990's the estimate of breeding Dotterel in Great Britain was put at 630 incubating males, which incidentally represents the sex role reversal of this species of bird where the female takes little if any part in the incubation of the clutch, and rarely if ever assisting in brood-care though she is known to maybe rejoin the family once well grown. The breeding range is largely confined to the summits of our highest and most remote hills most of which are in the Scottish Highlands, though small outposts are also know for example in Cumbria. Some estimates in N.Europe are of 17,000 pairs in Norway, 5,000 in Sweden, and 2,000 in Finland.

Dotterel. Brian Rafferty

As someone who constantly claims to have a passion for birds and birding, I'm pretty well ashamed to confess to never having got off my backside to go and see the Dotterel during the spring passage, always seeming to be 'doing some other birding' at the time. This spring appears to have been a good one with birds seen on Fairsnape Fell, Pendle Hill, and currently birds still on Champion Moor as I whats my excuse this time!  

Thanks to Mike for his photograph of the Dotterel on Champion Moor, and to Brian for his on Fairsnape Fell. Please use the links to visit their websites.


Richard Shilling said...

Hey Pete, as always a fascinating read. Educational and interesting in equal measure.

But I thought I'd report in to tell you I was delighted to see a male Stonechat at Birk Bank this evening. I didn't linger long to see if there was a female too but he was certainly there doing the Stonechat thing to the left of the tower facing Windy Clough. Chuffed to bits I was as I miss their chirpy presence and it tops off a fantastic week after spending four days on the Cowal peninsula in Scotland complete with many firsts for me: A pair of Treecreepers nesting in a whole in a tree, one foot from the ground and ten from our tent on the campsite. They weren't at all perturbed by our presence as the male brought food to the nesting female (incubating eggs I'm guessing). A Red Squirrel occupied a tree the other side of our tent and the icing on the cake were wild Dolphins and Harbour Seals swimming in Loch Fyne. Never seen any of those before, well I have seen Treecreepers but never that feeding behaviour. If only the weather had been good. Oh hang on, it was wall to wall sunshine!


Richard Shilling said...

Obviously I meant hole not whole!

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for the kind comment Rich and good to hear from you again.

I too am delighted to see you had a male Stonechat on Birk Bank, obviously the 'one that got away' on my last visit there on 14 April when I threatened not to go up there for a while having not found a single one, a promise I was always likely to break. Generally not looking good for the 'Stones' though I've just seen a report of five on Whitbarrow which has brightened up my day.

Thanks again for looking in Richard.

Richard Shilling said...

To be honest I am not sure if it is one that got away from your last trip, I wonder if he is a recent arrival? I am up there three or four times a week and always have a look around at the three spots I have seen them before and there's been nothing until today. My guess is he has arrived in the last week. All the same I am glad he has. Let's hope he can find a mate and rear a brood. Fingers crossed.

David Cookson said...

Very interesting read as usual, and many thanks for the information on their latest movements, they were a joy to see.

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for the added comment, you've fired me up to getting back there again this month Rich.

Thanks for commentsDavid, as for the info....more than welcome and can't wait to see the results.