Wednesday, 29 April 2015


I decided to have an early morning walk up Pendle Hill today to look for the dotterel which had been present for a couple of days. I wouldn't have long on the summit so I had to be there early and the forecast wasn't great, so bad in fact that I was concerned that it might encourage the birds to leave, but it had to be worth a go. The dotterel aren't around for very long after all, just a week or two around the beginning of May and they are usually one of the best experiences of the year.

I arrived at Barley shortly after 6am and by 7am I was on the summit of Pendle Hill. I'd seen a couple of ring ouzels on the way, but they were consigned to the supporting cast and it was the dotterel I really wanted to see.

The weather on the summit was bleak to say the least. Snow lying on the ground, bitterly cold strong westerly winds and frequent painfully strong hail showers. I met another birder on the summit, and he had been there for nearly an hour already and seen no dotterel. It didn't look good. My fear was that the bleak conditions had convinced the birds to leave, perhaps to lower ground nearby. I had a walk around for 45 minutes, but the best I could manage was a displaying golden plover. It's always an exciting experience to see and hear golden plover displaying, but today I couldn't help but be disapppointed. This was my third climb of Pendle Hill this year and I really couldn't see myself doing it again.

I headed back to the car and drove to todays job which was not far from the town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire. I arrived on site and checked my phone and couldn't believe what I was reading. Seven dotterel in a field just outside Todmorden and just a few miles from where I was working!

They were all bright birds and appeared to be all females. One or two were a little duller than the rest, but they were not as dull as males, and I put them down as young females. Perhaps not quite the dramatic setting of Pendle Hill but summer plumage dotterel are always a great sight.

Year: 199 (Dotterel)

This was perhaps the brightest bird of all.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew, it's Pendle Hill not Winter Hill. Pendle Hill is near Burnley. Head for the village of Barley and there are several ways up from there, though postcode BB9 6LG is the best and easiest. The birds are often near the trig point.
    Note however, that I didn't see the dotterel on Pendle Hill, I saw them at Todmorden about 12 miles away. They haven't been seen on Pendle Hill for a few days now. You need to check for them on birdguides and when you see they are there, go then. They could be seen anytime in the next couple of weeks, but in varying numbers and how long they stay for is anybodies guess.


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