Friday, 12 May 2017

Dotterels at Therfield

28th April 2017

The Dotterel is a member of the plover family and breeds in the highlands of Scotland, having spent the winter in the Atlas Mountains in north-west Africa. During its migration north, small groups or "trips" spend some time at traditional stop-over points. During the 1960s and 1970s the local stop-over point was the fields around Dotterel Hall by the A505, just east of Flint Cross, with an arrival time of on or around the 12th May. It is recorded that James the First used to shoot Dotterel at Royston each year. Dotterel are no longer regular on passage through the local area, but this year four birds spent a few days at Therfield, not a million miles from Dotterel Hall.

Dotterel are different from most other birds in that the females are brighter than the males, which reflects the role reversal whereby the male incubates the eggs and raises the chicks. On their breeding grounds they are notoriously tame, but on migration they are often just specks in the distance on the other side of a ploughed field in heat haze. However, for some reason the Therfield birds were very tame and it was possible to photograph them down to 15 yards.

Of the four birds present, two were females and two were males. Here is a selection of shots of the females.

..............and now some of the duller males.............

Well, how superb. That saves me a trip to the highlands to get some close-ups of Dotterel!!!!

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