Dotterel on the drylands of Catalonia

This is a typical autumn scene from the drylands of Lleida:

Dotterel in northeast Spain

No, not partridges or larks, they are Dotterel Charadrius morinellus.

This year the lucky participants on the famtrip organized by the Catalan Tourist Board were treated to the sight of a flock of 18 Dotterels on the drylands of Alfés, Lleida, Spain. We were watching Thekla Larks when the Dotterel literally flew over our heads and landed in the field in front of us. I had already told the famtrip participants that we were in a good area for migrating Dotterel, but also that due to the nature and brevity of our visit we were not going to look for them.

So it was very nice of the Dotterel to come looking for us!

The Alfés Dotterels already featured in my first book. Part of the text in “Where the birds are in northeast Spain” concerning the Dotterel reads as follows: “flocks that vary in size, but rarely in excess of 50 birds seek out and congregate in ploughed or stubble dryland cereal fields, alternating with smaller patches of fallow land.”

Their presence in the drylands around Lleida is common knowledge now, but not so back in September 1994.  Then I almost fell off my motorbike when they crossed the track in front of me on the edge of the thymefields of Alfés.

In the following years I compiled a modest list of personal observations of Dotterels at Alfés:

17 birds on 07/09/94

13 birds on 09/09/95

11 birds on 05/09/96

9 birds on 10/09/97

6 birds on 01/09/99

2 birds on 09/10/99

20 birds on 29/08/00

4 birds on 30/08/01

There’s more, but really all that you need to know to see Dotterels in northeast Spain can be read in “Where the birds are in Northeast Spain”. Detailed information about birding the drylands of Alfés can be found in the drylands of Lleida itinerary on the website.

Where to stay to be close to the Dotterels, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black Wheatears, etc. of Alfés? La Garbinada.

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