Friday, 7 May 2010
I have been fortunate in previous years to see dotterel as they stop off on their long journey to their breeding grounds in Scotland. They certainly get my vote as one of the most beautiful of British birds. If conditions are favourable at the end of April into early May a few dotterel usually stop over on Pendle Hill in Lancashire. This regular location is well watched at this time of the year and many birdwatchers make the climb to the summit of Lancashire's highest hill to see this very special bird. So it was this week,the week of the General Election,that I went with two colleagues to Pendle Hill to hopefully see the two dotterel that had arrived the day before our visit.
The morning had been damp and drizzly hardly ideal for climbing Pendle Hill but being the eternal optimist I had persuaded Mike and Robin that we should make the effort as the dotterel were still there and the weather might improve. Improve it did and on the way there the clouds were lifting and we could see the summit of Pendle which was very encouraging. As we left Pendleside Farm to head up the hill my good friend Paul Foster was just making his way down and I could see from the broad grin on his face that he had at last managed to see the dotterel. Paul had made two trips up the hill that morning the first one was wet and not suitable for photography but with the clearing weather he had gone back up to get his well earned images.
We continued upwards in the knowledge that the birds were still there and also that there were some other birdwatchers on the summit. Half an hour or so later we were on the summit and we made our way across to the birders already there. The weather was kind to us during our stay and we all enjoyed stunning views of the two dotterel. One of the birds was a female in her splendid breeding colours and I understand the other bird is also a female but she has not yet got her full breeding plumage but is still a stunning bird to see. I lost track of time as I got some wonderful close up shots of the dotterel as they moved around the stony summit of Pendle in their quest for food. At times both birds came within about twenty yards or so of the camera and did at times pose nicely for me to record this memorable event.
Eventually we decided to leave the birds in peace as we made our way back down the hill. We arrived back safely at the car having experienced a close encounter with this enigmatic and very special bird of the mountain tops. I understand as I write this two days later the birds are still there and will be waiting for favourable weather conditions before they make the long journey to the breeding grounds. I wish them well on their journey and certainly look forward to another close encounter with what I think is one of Britain's most beautiful birds. Hope my readers enjoy the images I have posted of this memorable visit to the summit of Pendle Hill.