Dotterel Magic

May 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Purple Saxifrage

There are some days while watching birds that only come along once in a lifetime, Saturday 8th May was one of those days. I had been out in Bowland all day looking for nests to film in the coming weeks and was quite pleased with such things as, Redstarts, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Oyster Catcher. However, when I arrived home at 4.00pm there was a message that there were nine Dotterel on a small hill in Rochdale called Brown Wardle. There was no time to lose so it was on with the boots and a drive up to Whitworth. A quick scan of the hill through the binos showed five people sat together near the top, so the Dotterel were still present; it was just a case of a fifteen minute dash up with my equipment and by now tired legs! When I arrived at the summit the Dotterel were asleep and had been for two hours, so I took some film of them as they roosted out of the wind behind tussock grass. It wasn’t long before some cattle approached and coupled with a too close approach by one of the photographers and the rapid fire of his camera they all flew off in a Northerly direction.

With that all five people descended the hill leaving me sat there to contemplate my next move. Thirty minutes later I was about to leave when there was a quick call as all nine birds landed only fifteen feet away. Immediately they started to feed and within a minute I was surrounded by nine Dotterel feeding up to ten feet away. This continued for nearly an hour and was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had in more than fifty years of wildlife encounters. I left them where I found them, roosting behind tussock grass, as the sun set to the West at 8.00pm. I wished them well in their long journey North.