Dotterel; What’s in a name?

Eurasian DotterelThe Dotterel Charadrius morinellus; when I first heard the name as a youngster it was one of those, almost mythical species, which, as far as I could see, I had little or no chance of ever seeing. In those days even a trip to Norfolk from our house in the home counties, let alone a holiday to the Cairngorms, was still only a dream; my family could not afford a car.

It was an inaccessible bird and the fact that I was unlikely to see one any time soon, added to the aura of mysticism surrounding the bird, and the wonderful name highlighted the specialness of this bird to me.

I had no appreciation of why the bird was called by this unusual name, I thought it was rather quaint, cute even, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Human beings have a habit of disappointing me and bursting my bubbles of naivety, especially when it comes to birds and their conservation, and when I discovered why the Dotterel was thus named a thought occurred to me; what is it about we humans that makes us feel so damn superior to every other living thing on this planet? If an animal or bird doesn’t behave in a manner in which we can find admiration, courage, speed, agility, we end up belittling the creature; witness such expressions as dumb animals, bird brained, silly cow, filthy pig and so on.

What was it that offended me so, bringing these thoughts to the fore of my troubled young mind? Read More.