Dotterel Charadrius morinellus

The dotterel is a member of the plover family, also known as charadrius morinellus. The dotterel has a grey-brown body, and bright chestnut belly. They can be identified by their white chest band, throat and eye strip. In the summer months dotterel will be found in the high tops of Scotland, building their nests with leaves, lichens and grass stems within a dug-out hole in the ground. Although these birds can be seen in the UK from April to October, they are known for their erratic migration from not only nest to nest, but from country to country during a single breeding season.


Female dotterels will lay three eggs per clutch but it is the male dotterel who incubate and raise the young while the females will travel and often have more eggs with different males. Dotterel are omnivorous and will eat various types of shellfish, snails and worms, as well as small berries, seeds or plant leaves.


  • Length: 20 – 22cm
  • Weight: 90 – 145g
  • Wingspan: 57 – 64cm


Least concern, although numbers are decreasing


Commonly found in Scottish Highlands

When to see

April – October


  • The female feathers and brighter than the males, which plays a part in their reversed parental status
  • During migration they are often seen in groups, also known as ‘trips’

Common name


Species name

Charadrius morinellus

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

April – October

Where to see in Scotland

There have been no sightings of dotterel on Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves.

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