Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Dotterel....

....and the Plover.

Dotterel Portrait
Dotterel. Brian Rafferty.

Cockersands has thrown up one or two extra surprises and rewards for me recently, not least the early and somewhat misplaced Dotterel found here on Tuesday 16 April.

Oakes made notes about the Dotterel stating that the birds tameness was its downfall, particularly during a period of 40 years between 1880 and 1920, when hundreds of these attractive birds were shot on the Fylde and Lancashire plains. This slaughter of the Dotterel proceeded on a similar scale elsewhere in Great Britain, the result of which at the time dwindling numbers seen on migration became painfully apparent.

The Dotterel today is an uncommon though regular passage migrant in our area, en route to its breeding grounds mainly in Scotland where they are restricted to the summits of some of the highest and most remote hills. Ringing recoveries of Scottish birds indicate that they winter in NW Africa and some birds pass through the Scottish hills in spring on their way to Scandinavia. I have no access to any 2012 records, but in 2011 only one Dotterel was recorded in our area, that of a bird on Whit Moor, Wray on 11 May. The mean date for arrivals of Dotterel in Lancashire is 25 April, the earliest date is of a bird found at the end of March in 1989. But historically there is an exceptionally early record of a Dotterel found 133 years ago at Pilling on 12 March 1880. 

Juvenile Ringed Plover
Juvenile Ringed Plover. Brian Rafferty. 

On the same day the Dotterel was found I had earlier seen a 'plover' on Plover Scar which didn't appear to be a Ringed Plover - not in adult plumage as would be expected in April - but it flew off before I could get anything definite on it.... deja-vu! 

Determined to look for this bird again I visited Cockersands the following day to be in luck and find it in the high tide roost with a mix of about 400 waders, Turnstone, Dunlin, and Ringed Plover. It was soon apparent I was seeing my first retarded Ringed Plover which - in the main - retained its juvenile plumage, but it had made me initially jump to attention....learning something every day.     

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the photographs of the Dotterel and Ringed Plover.


Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Good morning Peter!!!.. How are you???. Beautiful pictures. Love it.. Greetings from Madrid..

Pete Woodruff said...

Ana....I'm well and hope you are too. Thank you for asking and for your Greetings from Madrid.