Dotterel – 2012

Charadrius morinellus – HUTAN Y MYNYDDScarce visitor. Not recorded from November to March or in June and July

The Dotterel breeds on extensive open flat uplands, mountain ridges and plateaux, with sparse vegetation of moss, short grass or lichens and bare patches of rock, in tundra and alpine zones across the northern Palearctic, as far south as the highest mountains in Scotland. Winter quarters are in the semi-arid belt of the Middle East and North Africa, with a few in Spain.

Mathew (1894) recorded one Dotterel, Lockley et al (1949) none and Donovan and Rees (1994) noted occurrences on seven occasions in spring and on 21 in autumn.

In Pembrokeshire, Dotterels have been found in open treeless areas with bare ground interspersed with short heavily grazed or saline vegetation, or heathland, or on fallow or newly ploughed agricultural land. Localities were on the islands of Skokholm, Skomer and Ramsey, in coastal areas at St Govan’s Head, Castle Martin ranges, Dale, St Ann’s Head, Kete, Dale airfield and St David’s airfield and inland at Plumstone Mountain, “Preseli Top” (Foel Eryr), Foel Cwmcerwyn and Dinas Mountain (Bedd Morris).  

Autumn Passage

Dotterels were recorded between the 19th August and the 27th October on 47 occasions from 1984 to 2012. The majority were seen in September.

Most records involved single birds but two together were seen on seven occasions, three were at Ramsey on the 21st August 1981 and 21st – 23rd September 1993, with four at the Castlemartin ranges on the 23rd September 1999. The majority were specified by the observers as being juvenile birds.

A very late Dotterel was seen associating with Golden Plovers at the Castlemartin ranges on the 13th December 1998.

Spring Passage

Spring records span from the 18th April and the 4th June. Apart from the Dotterel shot at Castlemartin in the spring of 1888 recorded by Mathew (1894), single birds were noted in a further six years up until 2012. However “trips” of four were recorded at Foel Eryr (Preseli Top) on the 8th May 1981, five at Skokholm on the 7th May 1960, seven at St Ann’s Head on the 7th May 1995 (two remaining until the 8th), seven at St Davids airfield on the 7th May 2000, 11 at Skomer on the 15th May 1991 and 15 at Dinas Mountain (Bedd Morris) on the 16th May 1991 (four remaining until the 20th). At least two of these “trips” occurred during periods of low cloud and poor visibility.   

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Dotterel in Pembrokeshire