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Showing posts from November, 2013

Dotterel delight

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It was impossible to resist. The wonder that is the birders' grapevine (here in Extremadura through an email group) brought the news that a friend of mine, Ricardo Montero, had found a group of Dotterel about an hour or so from our house. The following day, another friend, Jesús Porras went to relocate them and posted the above photo on his Facebook page (IberianNature Guías de Naturaleza). Now Dotterel, which have the rather spendid Spanish name Chorlito Carambolo, are truly delightful birds which I have long wanted to see in Extremadura. Indeed it has been many years since I have encountered the species - I used to watch them sometimes on spring passage on the east of England. In spring, the plumage is very striking with rusty orange underparts and, like that other curious group of waders, the phalaropes, the males are duller than the females and take the lead role in incubation and care of the young. Similarly they can be unusually tame. The Dotterel is a species that breeds o…

Thick-knees at roost

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Despite being widespread on the open plains, Stone Curlews (or Eurasian Thick-knees, as they are sometimes called) can be tricky to find in the spring. This is partly because of their wonderfully cryptic plumage and their preference for bare open ground, which on a sunny day will be bathed in heat haze by mid-morning, meaning that ground-dwelling birds will, as it were, dissolve in the shimmer. It is not helped also by the fact that Stone Curlews are mainly nocturnal, so one will be looking for birds at their most inactive period of the day: standing motionless or, worse still, sitting down flat on the ground. In autumn and winter, on the other hand, the task is much easier, and this is because, like many birds outside the breeding season, the Stone Curlew forms winter communal roosts. So with little heat haze to worry about, once one has found the roost, one should be able to enjoy prolonged views of often rather sleepy thick-knees. The roost sites tend to be traditional, a cultural…