29 Apr 2023

29 Apr 23 - Spring Dotterel On The Head

I received a phone call from fellow patch Birder Phil Saunders just before 07:00, as I was arriving at the car park at St Aldhelms. That could only mean that Phil had arrived before me & had found something interesting: damn. It was a Dotterel with two Golden Plovers. Fortunately, they had landed in one of the fields and they were visible from the track by the open barn. That was less than ten minutes walk & therefore, there was a good chance of them still being there when I got there. I grabbed the scope & camera from the car & start walking, whilst phoning the news around. They were still there & showing at the edge of the second field when I arrived.
Dotterel with two Golden Plovers
Despite being a good-looking spot for Dotterel, there are not that many Dotterel records for the St Aldhelms/Winspit patch on Bubo. Steve Morrison has been collating records of the scarcer species on the St Aldhelms/Winspit patch. Steve reckons he still needs some work to pull together any missing Dotterel records, but the following sightings include five plus records of fourteen individuals:
  • One North over Winspit on 20 May 68
  • Two first winters at St Aldhelms Head (Chapel Field) on 7 & 9 Sep 93
  • An adult and a first winter at St Aldhelms (Chapel Field) on 17 & 18 Aug 95, with three at St Aldhelms Head (Chapel Field) on 26 Aug 95 (the 1995 records are thought to involve the same individuals)
  • Seven at St Aldhelms (Emmetts Hill/Chapel Field) on 18 Aug 01, one heard at St Aldhelms Head (Emmetts Hill) on 20 Aug 01 and 4 adults and one first winter at St Aldhelms (Emmetts Hill) on 26 Aug 01 (the 2001 records are thought to involve the same individuals)
  • One heard at St Aldhelms Head (Eight Acres/Emmetts Hill) on 27 Aug 19.
At one point, they were spooked by a Corvid. They flew up, circled a few times and landing very close to where they were feeding. Around 11:30, they flew again, but this time disappeared off North.
Golden Plover
This was a lovely Spring record and only my second Dotterel record for St Aldhelms, having found the three on 26 Aug 95 in the Chapel Field with Mark Edgeller & Andy Rhodes. We were unaware of the previous sightings until we put the news out to the locals, who had been keeping their sightings that Autumn quiet.

I had a good walk up to the Coastguards, but could only add two Swifts, seventeen Wheatears and one Spotted Flycatcher. I caught up with Phil again as he was leaving. While we were chatting & swapping notes for the day, he spotted this Violet Oil Beetle in the Renscombe car park.
Violet Oil Beetle
Violet Oil Beetle
Violet Oil Beetle
Violet Oil Beetle