My top five birds. ( Dotterel )

14th December 2012
If there has been one bird that has continually frustrated me for over twenty five years it is the Dotterel. It is even more annoying because every Spring these stunning birds appear on the high peaks and moors of the Brecon Beacons. The irony of it is they always appear to people who are not looking for them, typically hill walkers. One instance was a group of walkers from southern England walking between Corn Ddu and Penyfan on the Beacons and they literally had a bird land at their feet. They thought it was a Woodlark and just walked on having no real interest, birders would love something like that to happen to them!
I was on holiday in Extremadura in Spain and I had parked my vehicle near to a watering hole on the Belen plains and was just waiting. I was about fifty yards away from the water, I had Pin Tailed and Black Bellied Sandgrouse come in to drink and remarkably a Booted eagle come in to bathe. It was extremely hot there and I was about to leave when seven Dotterel flew in, they were the last bird I expected to see there. I could see how beautiful they were and I would have loved to have been closer to them but I knew it was not possible. From that time I just took a real shine to them, they were so elusive, they just had a drink and then they were gone, goodness knows where.
Another time I was walking along the beach in Holkam in north Norfolk in October and I could see a bird running along the creeks in front of me, as I looked I could see it was a Dotterel in Autumn plumage. This was quite a shock, it was there for a few minutes and then gone, that was my only UK sighting. Every year for the next twenty five years I always hoped I would see a bird in Spring plumage but it never materialised. I had literally given up hope of seeing one, things had got that bad.
In 2011 I went to Lesvos in the Spring and saw some great birds there, as always, but when I returned home I checked the local reports and I could see that Dotterel had been seen quite locally in an area very easy to get to. I was so frustrated yet I knew it was totally illogical, I had seen some exquisite birds on Lesvos, but I still wanted that Dotterel!
One day I was up in mid Wales and I had not seen very much, parked up I was drinking a cup of Coffee and decided to check my messages. Good job I did, I could hardly believe my eyes, Birdguides: Dotterel, Llanderfalle Hill, Brecon. Last seen midday. It was two O'clock, I literally left immediately, it was a bank holiday, traffic was horrendous. I had fifteen miles to cover, I was stuck behind everything, it's always the same, I felt like chewing the steering wheel in frustration. Finally I got there, hoping to see a few birders...nothing, not a soul, my heart sunk, I said to Susan it's gone we've missed it. I felt absolutely dreadful, all those years of trying and failed again! Then we both saw something in a small clump of reeds and unbelievably the most gorgeous female Dotterel walked out into the open. I was absolutely worried stiff she would fly off but I had to get closer, I got to within fifty feet and I thought that's enough, but she came walking towards me, like two destinies finally meeting in some film. I took some great close up shots as she continued feeding around me. I was there for almost an hour watching her, she was absolutely stunning. I finally left her alone on that remote hill top on her own.
I sincerely hope she was safe wherever she was heading for.
That is why this beautiful, elusive, yet confident bird is in my top five.