Circumstances conspired against me last night as I came out of a long phonecall only to find that a Dotterel was only 12 miles away and the light had faded to the point where it just wasn’t worth the trip to see it. News came through shortly afterwards that it had indeed been seen until dusk, but being a species that migrates at night there was still no certainty that it would be present this morning. Waking early I was really pleased when a message came through at 6.15am to say the bird was still present. So up I got and headed over to the newly built A536 road just after Somerford and before Congleton.
The details of my first visit are not that interesting. I pulled the car up on the verge and as my bins were in the car I didn’t get out but looked over the field where the bird had been. A distant pale brown blob was seen and that was the bird, great it was still here, but now I had to find somewhere to park safely. So I took a bit of a circuitous route and ended up parking a short distance from the field. On my return I scanned and scoped but no sign. A few Lapwings were present and flying around but no rare bird! About 10 more birders appeared and we all searched to no avail and gave up en masse presuming that the bird had flown off. So, home I went with no photos and a poor back on view as my only reward.
A short while later, having finished breakfast, the news arrived that it was back, so I hopped into my car again and drove the same 12 mile journey once more! On arrival a quick scan again revealed no bird, de je vu was setting in, but a few moments later the original finder, Phil Oddy, gestured to me that he had the bird so I joined him and was soon looking at a front on view of a gorgeous Dotterel. These waders pass through England every year on their way up to breeding grounds in Scotland and Scandinavia and are a fabulous bird to see, some would even say a Cheshire Mega!
Once my scope was set up the bird was viewed in all its glory the bold white supercilium standing out on the face, joining at the rear of the head to make a pronounced V-marking. Its rich orange breast and dark belly contrasting with the white collar and buff upperparts. I then started to take a few digiscoped shots of the bird but the distance and rain and overcast conditions were against me. I persisted and got a few ‘keepers’ in amongst most which were rejected once I sorted through them later on!
The bird continued to feed out in the newly ploughed field as more and more birders arrived to add it to their Yearlist and Cheshire List. As well as the Dotterel there were two Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail in the field, as well as numerous Meadow Pipits and Lapwings. A nice Brown Hare was loping along at the rear of the field, now that really was too far for photos!!
As this is published on Wednesday Evening (4th May 2022) the Dotterel is still present but becoming more mobile. With waders migrating overnight the bird could well be gone tomorrow, but its brief visit was very welcome for all us birders here in Cheshire.