Based in Aviemore, The Cairngorms, Highlands of Scotland.
Gary Hodgson runs Tarmachan Mountaineering, providing instruction and guided walking all year round. This is my regularly updated blog including the latest snow conditions in winter.
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
One of my favourite birds in the Scottish mountains is the Dotterel. This beautiful and now rare wader can be see on our hills from April to around mid August. A migratory bird that travels all the way from North Africa to the highest mountain tops in Sprig/Summer to nest and rear its young. I've been keeping an eye out for these wonderful we birds every time I visit a particular area on the Monadhliath mountains. It's a place I go to on a regular basis and I've seen them a few ties this season in this particular location. So I set off in the hope to see them again today.
I was so happy to see the largest group yet on this occasion. Three adult females and four juveniles. In exactly the same spot as my first sighing the Spring. The Females which are brightly coloured with their vivid rusty red chest plumage in Summer are very distinctive. The male adult is duller. The juveniles stll have their creamy white feathers. The young are hatched around June time. So at the moment the juveniles are quite big an can fly. The have to! It's along journey back to Africa. They will stop off down in the south, possibly Wales. So if you are lucky you may see them in your area.
Once born the youngsters are looked after b he Males. Unusual role reversal. Meanwhile the Females enjoy the freedom of finding other partners, sometimes as far afield as Norway! So it was good to see them back has a family unit today. Of course I stayed a fair distance way as not to disturb them. They are quite a friendly wee bird and will, in fact, come quite close up to you if you intimidate their call. I have never done this. I don't think it's right to try and get them closer to you than you really need. They don't tend to fly off, just waddle about in the same small area.
Unfortunately the numbers of Dotterel have dwindled in recent decades, by up to 60% in 30 years. Climate change, food course and disturbance the main reasons. An interesting article here on this.
So even more special and a treat to be able to spend an hour lying on the ground watching these colourful and beautiful birds. The Cairngorms is, indeed a special environment.
After my wonderful encounter I had a wander about to photograph another one of my favourite subjects, the Mountain Hare. They weren't has obliging for portraits today. But lovely to watch them bounding around the mountainside.