For me to leap in the car to see a bird it has to meet some strict criteria: not too far away, a bird I really want to see, and a bird I will enjoy seeing (maybe because it’s pretty!).
There are few birds that would tempt me out of the county of Northants, however rare, these days, whereas I might leap into the car to see, say, a Bee-eater at Stanwick Lakes (though there never has been one there!).
But there was a report of a rare bird, for Northants, on Monday afternoon that persuaded me to make a 20-mile round trip just on the off-chance of seeing it.
Any guesses what it might have been?
I’ve seen this species before, although not for about three years. And I’ve even ringed quite a few of them in Norway in the distant past. In this country I’ve seen them in several places in Scotland and also in Norfolk, and I have a feeling I’ve seen them in Cornwall too but I can’t actually remember the details.
They are pretty though…
Have you guessed?
This is the time of year when they are likely to turn up on migration.
Have you guessed?
They really are quite pretty…
In a pea field?
Yes, that’s right – Dotterel.
There was one reported late morning in a pea field a little down the road and although I didn’t pick up the news until early afternoon the draw of a female Dotterel was strong enough for me to go and have a look. It is a nice, very large pea field. But I think the Dotterel had gone – I didn’t see it and there wasn’t anyone else there looking at it.
Still, it wasn’t a complete failure. There were quite a few Lapwing around and one adult had four really cute chicks very close to the road so I looked at them. And there were several Yellow Wagtails so I listened and looked at them. And a Red Kite or two flew over – and they are always lovely. And there were quite a lot of Brown Hares too.
But the thing I saw which I don’t think I have ever seen before was a very large flock of Stock Doves – some would say they are the UK’s most underrated bird, you know.
A couple of fields down from the pea field, in some spring wheat, there was a large flock of Stock Doves, with not a single Wood Pigeon amongst them. My peak count was 173, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were even more. I certainly haven’t seen that many for many years. I wouldn’t have seen them were it not for the Dotterel report. I might not even have noticed them or paid them as much attention had the Dotterel been there.
I enjoyed the Stock Doves, but I would have liked seeing a Dotterel too.
If I had seen a Dotterel I might have waxed lyrical about its beauty and described its unusual mating system which leads to the females being the brighter sex (in plumage – I don’t think anyone has measured Dotterel IQ). But I didn’t see a Dotterel so you can just look all that up on t’internet yourselves.