If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

14 February, 2014

The dunlin: a small bird in a big flock

I am no photographer, just an opportunist with a camera! The dunlin (Calidris alpina) is one of many species that present the likes of me with real issues.
Firstly, they are small birds - no bigger than a blackbird, so you need to get close to them to get a decent shot. However, they are very nervous birds and will fly at the very least disturbance, usually just as you have them in focus! Finally, they feed at the waters edge which can not only be inaccessible but
also provides no cover for the approaching cameraman. All in all, then, a difficult little chap for the likes of me with minimal equipment to immortalise on the world wide web!
The thing birders love about dunlin is their amazing formation flying display. One of my most unforgeable sights was on Brownsea Island where dunlin feed on the lagoon in winter. A peregrine came screaming in over the harbour wall and every bird on the lagoon took to the air. My immediate thought was that they would have surely been safer on the ground. In amongst the masses of birds, a closely formed flock of probably a thousand or so dunlin emerged, twisting, turning, swirling as one. No way could the peregrine have picked out one of those out for lunch.

Another Arctic breeder that visits us here in Dorset for the winter months.
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