Dotterel - a twenty five year wait!!

07th May 2012
It's been a very long wait indeed. I've seen Dotterel through a telescope drinking from a pool on the Belen Plains in Extremadura and running along a beach in Norfolk in their worn Autumn plumage. Never until now, have I had the opportunity to photograph one.
Last year I went to Lesvos in late April and when I came home I found that there had been birds on a easily accessible hillside not fifteen miles from where I live and what made it worse, it was in an area I know so well having walked there since I was a boy. I saw some lovely birds in Lesvos but I still felt I had missed out - what a strange feeling.
Dotterels are some of the most enigmatic little birds, they are very difficult to locate passing through the UK from their wintering grounds in North Africa to their breeding grounds in the far north of Scotland and Scandinavia during a very small window in late April and early May. They then appear only on remote hillsides, sometimes up to 3000ft. This year driven on by a burning desire to photograph these birds I have on three occasions walked the area where they were seen last year with no luck whatsoever. There have been very few reports of these birds on passage anywhere this year and I thought another year had gone by.
I was up in mid wales on Sunday looking for Cuckoos, with no success. I was parked on a hillside when a message came through on my smartphone at 16.00hrs from Birdguides - "a single Dotterel on a hillside just outside Brecon, last seen late morning". My heart rate increased I left immediately, I was about 15 miles away, I had to take the main road there was no choice it was the most direct route but I was stuck behind every conceivable slow moving vehicle, Buses, Campers, Bank holiday drivers, what a frustrating drive, now I know why I don't twitch!
I got to the top of the hill where the bird had been reported - no sign of anyone just a vast open space, I thought 'that's it, I've missed out again'. I got my scope out and began looking more in hope than expectation, then I spotted something hiding in a clump of reeds, I couldn't believe my eyes about 100yds away a beautiful female bird, my heart rate went up to a new level. Female Dotterels are more colourful than the males I was hoping if the bird was still there that it would be a female.
I had my kit on the back seat to save time, I walked quietly in an arc around the bird to avoid disturbance I compressed my tripod right down and kept as low as I could. She seemed to tolerate my presence and I took a few shots then moved 5yds forward then some more, etc etc. I knelt down on the soaking wet ground, I didn't care, then to my astonishment she came walking towards me inquisitively looking at me and just feeding by trembling her foot on the ground to catch worms. I stayed there for an hour with just the two of us in the middle of a sodden moorland. I took a whole raft of close up shots it was one of the best moments in many years of birding. I reluctantly left her still quietly feeding and made my way back to the car with one of my big ambitions finally realised.
Please see latest images, Dotterel.