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An Unusual Vistor to Harris

Dotterel, Photographed by Ailsa Curnow

A trip of Dotterel were recently spotted on Gilaval Glas, a peak just to the North of Tarbert. These colourful birds are unusual visitors to Harris, that breed on the tops of the highest peaks of the Cairngorms and Scandinavia. They are unusual among birds in that the females are more colourful than the males. The females engage in more courtship display than males and although they lay the eggs, the males undertake most of the incubation of the eggs and parenting duties. This is a role reversal in comparison to most other bird species in which the female carries out a greater share of the parenting duties and as a result has a more camouflaged plumage.

The Dotterel seen on Harris were almost certainly on their way through to their breeding grounds but a recent record of breeding dotterel on Skye confirms that passing migrants do occasionally stop in unusual places to breed.

During May a number of rare passage species heading for the arctic are seen on the Outer Hebrides on their way up the West coast. These include several waders, such as Whimbrel and Skuas including Pomerine and Long-tailed Skuas.


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