A last minute decision to leave a very unproductive Carsington Water, to head 80 miles north to Pendle Hill near Burnley, Lancashire, was a risky strategy.
The target birds were two female Dotterel [Charadrius morinellus]. Not known for hanging around long, nevertheless we headed off. Arriving at Pendle at approx. 1.30pm, we set off up the walk and then to the absolutely knackeringly steep climb up to the trig point on top of Pendle Hill. The hill is famous for its witches, present and being devillish around 1760’s or so. It is also famous for its passage of Dotterel, who stop off on their long migration from North Africa, up to their breeding grounds of the high arctic. Some of them still breed in north Scotland.
Dotterel are a member of the Charadriiformes, with wader cousins such as Golden Plover, etc. They are one of those birds where the female is much brighter than the duller male – a full adult female is a stunning bird to behold.
We found the two females at the top, just away from the trig point, picking their way through the grass and heather for insects, unconcerned at the attention they were getting. We had just got their confidence when a group of walkers almost trod on one of them – of course – off they went. One of the birders there remarkably kept on them with his bins, for over 5 minutes. They’re coming back down he said – and there’s now three of them! – he said increduously. And so there was – the two females and now joined by a male.
We sat down and photogaphed them for an hour and a half, getting them walking around us, down to 2 feet at times – brilliant. They eventually flew off, but came down a short while later a 100 yards or so away from us. It was getting late and we had’nt eaten, so we headed back down – taking the longer easy route back down to the car.
Stopping at the Pendle Hill Inn, I can recommend their beef pie, mushy peas, gravy, red cabbage and homemade chips, washed down with a lovely pint of lime and lemonade [I was driving] – yum, yum.
After fighting through the usual shite traffic around Manchester, we found a Short-eared Owl, over Axe Edge Moor, along with several dozen vocal Red Grouse on the moors.
A few images from the trip.