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TITLE
Dotterels in the Highlands
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DESTHOMSON_02
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Desmond Nethersole-Thompson
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1897
KEYWORDS
ornithology
bird watching
audio

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Desmond Nethersole-Thompson first came to the Highlands in 1932 to study birds. Following almost twenty years of study, mainly in the Spey Valley, he published his first account of the greenshank species. From 1964, he and his family lived each spring in a remote valley in Sutherland where they followed a population of greenshanks through many consecutive years. In this audio extract from 1980, Desmond describes the dotterel.

And up there, on the high tops, rather different kind of habitat, broad-backed hills and broad-backed ridges, we've got another absolute little beauty - the dotterel. A wader bird, rather smaller than the lapwing; the great black, ink-black splash on its belly and red flanks and a Tam o'Shanter, white eye stripes that form a - what looks like a Tam o'Shanter. Dotterels are extraordinary birds; they've got a reversed courtship and reversed sexual differences. The hen is a little larger and more brightly coloured than the cock and it is she, in the days, in these days of women's lib - you may think about it - she dominates in courtship, separates out a cock and eventually mates with it.

And very occasionally, we were fortunate enough to find this out in 1934, the hen will put one cock down on her first clutch - three eggs - and then about ten or eleven days later do precisely the same with another. And that was an exciting and tremendous discovery for us and for a long time it was not found again in any part of the world. And then, in the 1950s, an Austrian ornithologist, up in the Kirbitzkogel [Zirbitzkogel?], in his country, found almost the same thing. And the Finns, who are doing grand work on dotterel and other waders have also proved it their country. You can imagine how delighted we were about that.

And now, when I'm not strong enough to do that kind of work, my family have taken over, and they work in one of my old study areas in the Grampians where they weigh eggs, and they colour-ring chicks, and they work out the movements of the broods on the tops. And my son, Patrick, had a marvellous experience at a dotterel's nest; he lifted the two chicks in the egg and held them in his hand, and the little cock dotterel came and sat on them and brooded them - the sort of experience you only have once in a lifetime

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Dotterels in the Highlands

1980s; 1990s

ornithology; bird watching; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Bird Watching

Desmond Nethersole-Thompson first came to the Highlands in 1932 to study birds. Following almost twenty years of study, mainly in the Spey Valley, he published his first account of the greenshank species. From 1964, he and his family lived each spring in a remote valley in Sutherland where they followed a population of greenshanks through many consecutive years. In this audio extract from 1980, Desmond describes the dotterel.<br /> <br /> And up there, on the high tops, rather different kind of habitat, broad-backed hills and broad-backed ridges, we've got another absolute little beauty - the dotterel. A wader bird, rather smaller than the lapwing; the great black, ink-black splash on its belly and red flanks and a Tam o'Shanter, white eye stripes that form a - what looks like a Tam o'Shanter. Dotterels are extraordinary birds; they've got a reversed courtship and reversed sexual differences. The hen is a little larger and more brightly coloured than the cock and it is she, in the days, in these days of women's lib - you may think about it - she dominates in courtship, separates out a cock and eventually mates with it. <br /> <br /> And very occasionally, we were fortunate enough to find this out in 1934, the hen will put one cock down on her first clutch - three eggs - and then about ten or eleven days later do precisely the same with another. And that was an exciting and tremendous discovery for us and for a long time it was not found again in any part of the world. And then, in the 1950s, an Austrian ornithologist, up in the Kirbitzkogel [Zirbitzkogel?], in his country, found almost the same thing. And the Finns, who are doing grand work on dotterel and other waders have also proved it their country. You can imagine how delighted we were about that. <br /> <br /> And now, when I'm not strong enough to do that kind of work, my family have taken over, and they work in one of my old study areas in the Grampians where they weigh eggs, and they colour-ring chicks, and they work out the movements of the broods on the tops. And my son, Patrick, had a marvellous experience at a dotterel's nest; he lifted the two chicks in the egg and held them in his hand, and the little cock dotterel came and sat on them and brooded them - the sort of experience you only have once in a lifetime