dotterel



dotterel defined in 1930 year

dotterel - Dotterel;
dotterel - Crown dusky black, bordered by a white band extending backwards from the eye round the nape; upper parts ash-brown, the inner secondaries margined with rufous; tail-feathers broadly tipped with white, except the middle pair; throat dull white; upper breast ash-brown; white gorget or band lower breast, and flanks bright chestnut; belly black; tail-coverts white. The female is larger and brighter than the male. Length, nine inches.

This is a richly coloured, handsome ht tie plover; it was familiar to our forbears, and is often mentioned by old British and Continental writers as a very delicate bird to eat - a ' very daintie dish,' as Drayton wrote. Much was also said, both in verse and prose, about its supposed foolishness, which was proverbial, so that dull and weak- minded persons were compared to the dotterel. It was believed that when the fowler, on approaching the bird, stretched forth an arm, the dotterel responded by stretching out a wing; that when a leg was put forth, the action was immediately copied; and that the bird, being intent on watching and imitating the motions of the man, neglected its own safety, and was taken in the net. The origin of this notion, which was credited by everyone, ornithologists included, for the space of two or three centuries, is no doubt to be found in the fact that the dotterel is less shy and active than most plovers, and, like very many other birds, when approached and disturbed during repose has the habit of stretching out a wing and leg before moving away.

The dotterels arrive in this country in small flocks, called 'trips,' about the beginning of May. From the south-east coast, where they first appear, they travel from place to place on their way north. Arrived at then breeding-haunts in Westmorland and Scotland, they are seen at first frequenting heaths, dry pasture-lands, and fallows, but soon retire to the mountains to breed. The nest is a slight depression in the short, dense grass on or a little below the mountain summit, and several pairs are usually found breeding near each other. The eggs are three in number, in colour yellowish olive, spotted and blotched with brownish black.

In August or early in September the dotterels take their departure for the south. It is known that this bird, which was once common in this country, has been diminishing in numbers for many years, and that very few pairs, if any, survive in the Lake District.

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