Sunday 18 May 2014

Joining the dots

The local Orkbird text and email messaging service was busy this weekend with reports of a small group of Dotterel frequenting fields in Deerness.

The Dotterel is a an Amber List status bird in the UK. On Orkney, it is listed as a rare visitor.

In a change to traditional roles, the female Dotterel has much brighter plumage than the male. Indeed, it is the male that bears the responsibility for raising the young. How very 21st Century of it.

When the initial notification went out on Saturday morning, I was at work on the opposite side of the island. By the time I was free to go Dotterel dotty in the afternoon, it was raining and not particularly conducive to lugging a camera around.

Sunday started wet too, but gradually improved through the morning. Our Lass and I nipped into Kirkwall, before wandering from Scapa Beach along a part of the Crantit Trail. The scrub and wetland areas held several 'singing' male Reed Buntings and a Sedge Warbler. We had arranged a lunch engagement in Burray, and while driving across the Barriers, I received another Dotterel update. They were still there! But once again, I would have to be patient until later in the afternoon.

Once we reached Deerness, we left the car at the small parking area for the Covenanters' Memorial and walked a circular route around the tracks and lanes until we came upon the field said to contain a small group of three Dotterel.

A car was parked at the easterly edge of the field, and a camera lens was visible. This was a good sign! Even better, the occupant of the car was a chap we had met on North Ronaldsay the previous year, so whilst we had a chat to catch up, we were able to use his car as a hide, so as not to make the birds nervous at our presence. We were very grateful for this, though in truth, the birds were very confiding.

Charadrius morinellus
In one of those  odd coincidences that occur from time to time, next weekend is the Orkney Folk Festival. One of the bands performing over the course of the weekend is Shooglenifty. One of the tracks from their Murmichan album is entitled 'The Dotteral'.

It's a double album


holdingmoments said...

Now that's just plain greedy.

I've yet to see a Dotterel; and you go and post two at the end! lol

Imperfect and Tense said...

These were our first ones ever, Keith. A bit easier than climbing a mountain in the Cairngorms. There was a small group of three, which increased to four today, according to the latest update.