After Project Jay went so well, I knew it would be difficult to follow it up. But with Spring now arriving properly all over the country, there is a wealth of wildlife displaying and nesting that we can view right on our doorstep. While out looking for kingfishers and encountering cheeky mink, I took a drive to a river not far from home to see what was there, and that was the first of many visits, and the start of Project Dipper!
Dippers always seem delightfully cheerful little birds about the size of a blackbird, a little bit more round, and found in shallow, clear and fast moving water. Here, they feed on insect larvae, shrimp and other aquatic goodies. Although exclusively found on rivers' edges, these are still songbirds (our only songbird to wade and dive for food), and have a lovely rolling song in summer. They also nest along the bank and use grass, moss and twigs from the river to line and build the nests.
The river where I found several nesting pairs is a great place to photograph and film these birds, as they are well used people walking past with children and dogs. I was able to get to within 10ft of them sometimes and they were quite unconcerned with my presence. This allowed me to wade out into the river to get some shots of a dipper with its head under the water at the top of a weir as it searched for food:
I was also lucky enough to see the courtship display taking place - which was after they built the nest, so I reckon this was for bonding purposes. The courtship consists of lots of chest bumping and wing flapping and retreating, then following and repeat. What a great sight to see and witness, so close to the birds too:
Tina was able to video a lot of the courtship, while I concentrated on photographs, and you can see the short film on the DGPix Youtube channel, or here:
I had fun on project dipper and I will revisit the site after the young have fledged to get some more images of adults and juveniles together, but for now I'll leave them to nest and breed. You can see these fantastic wee birds all year round, so I would encourage you all to go out and look on your local rivers for them. Just look for the tell tale bird poo on stones on rocks that gives away their presence.
About this blog:
Photographic adventures from from behind the DGPix Wildlife & Nature Photography lens!