In the summer the discovery of a golden plover on Dartmoor is big new news – it is one of our rarest breeding birds – only a couple of pairs survive and all the expectation is that within a decade they will be gone.
Winter however is rather different – golden plover flock to the moor, consisting of birds that have breed in the high north during the summer. Whilst I was out ’10 Toring’ on Saturday we came across a big flock – perhaps between 300-400 birds on Swelltor. The biggest flock I have even encountered on Dartmoor.
There is an interesting commentary on ‘Tweet of the Day’ about golden plovers – listen here.
The flock we came across was rather ‘tame’ allowing us to walk up to them within 20 metres – suggesting that these birds had bred in the high north well away from human interaction.
‘D’Urban and Matthew’ in their 1895 book on the Birds of Devon state that ‘The most favourable time for stalking the “trips” is just, at daybreak, when they will usually suffer the gunner to get within easy range.”
Luckily times have changed for the golden plover on Dartmoor!