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DOTTEREL - Charadrius morinellus


With its gorgeous plumage and liking for high mountain plateau, the dotterel is a scarce star of the Scottish upland scene.

Rich chestnut-orange belly feathers set this wading bird apart from the few other waders (typically dunlin, which is much smaller, and golden plover, which has a black belly) that you might find in the same area.

Female dotterel are more brightly coloured than males and don’t assist with chick rearing. One female might mate with males in both Scotland and Norway in one summer, laying a clutch of eggs to be tended by the males in each country.

Getting into position for dotterel viewing takes effort. Typically, you’ll need to hike to 700 metres or more on a mountain in the central Highlands of Scotland. Some dotterel return here from North Africa as early as March, but most are here from May to July.

Most of the fewer than 1,000 pairs of dotterel in Scotland live on the gravelly, high altitude ‘fell-fields’ of mountains in the Cairngorms National Park and nearby mountains to the west and north-west of it.

For more information see the RSPB's dotterel page.