Eurasian Dotterel

The Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) is a small wader in the plover family of birds.

This bird breeds in the arctic tundra of northern Eurasia from Norway to eastern Siberia, and on suitable mountain plateaus such as those found in the Scottish highlands and the Alps. It builds its nests in a bare ground scrape and lays 2-4 eggs.

This species is migratory and is known to winter in a narrow belt across North Africa from Morocco eastwards to Iran. Stopovers during migration are usual, and small parties (known as trips) of Dotterels pass through each year at these usually inland arable or grassy sites. They winter in semi-desert habitats.

This plover is smaller and more compact than Eurasian Golden Plover. It has a striking whitish supercilium, and plain wings in flight. Summer adults are unmistakable, with a chestnut breast bordered above with white, black belly and warm brown back. Their legs are yellow and the short bill is black. As with the phalaropes, the female is brighter than the male, the latter being responsible for incubation.

Winter birds lack the rich underpart coloration, apart from the white breast line, and are greyer above. Young birds are similar, but have a scaly appearance to their backs.

The Dotterel’s main diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates. These are captured using a run-and-pause technique.

The flight call is a soft “pyurr” and the female’s song is a simple repetitive whistle.