A dip in the river

I've been keeping an eye on my local Dippers ( Cinclus Cinclus) again that live on a stretch of the Afon Lwyd.

They are the United Kingdoms only native aquatic song birds. Several years ago I saw my first Dipper and since then have developed  the "knack" of finding them quite regularly. One year I was quite obsessive about them and would just find a quiet spot then sit and watch them for hours. I am always careful not to cause them any disturbance.

Dipper perched. It was bobbing up and down aka "dipping" in between shots.

If you keep a respectful distance they are quite accommodating birds and they will relax and go about there normal business. I love watching them feeding. Dipping under the water, leaving a trail of bubbles on the surface as they hunt for invertebrates hiding under the rocks.

If you look carefully you can see the Dippers bill and the trail of bubbles

Then they pop up out of the water and then give their prey a good bash on a rock before gobbling up their catch. On my stretch the Dippers seems to enjoy Caddis Fly larvae. These aquatic fly larvae use a protective case of sand and vegetation to try and hide their juicy bodies from predators.

Dippers are very accomplished at finding them and remove their camouflaged cases with ease before eating them.

It had found a Caddis Fly larvae and was about bash it to get at the juicy grub

At this time of year the Dippers are pairing up and get quite territorial. They will soon be preparing to make their nests ready for the breeding season. I avoid their nest locations during the breeding season  with my camera as they are protected birds - Schedule 1 Category.  For now though, I can spend some time photographing them.

A pair of them were very active today. I heard their calls as soon as I started walking along the river. One of them was warbling quite loudly.

I listen for their calls to locate them and then look for their bright white chests. Where I watch them the light is not that good and its a challenge to get sharp pictures - always. I have considered use of flash but it just does not produce the results that I like - natural looking pictures are what I favour.

Today there was a third bird that caused havoc darting up and down the river calling loudly. The pair of Dippers I was watching were quite aggressive chasing it off.

The birds would then all split and I would have to start over again and locate them up and down river.

I know they have some favourite spots so I tend to wait around quietly keeping a low profile hoping they return.

Eventually one Dipper turned up and perched opposite me. Then there was big commotion and second Dipper turned up performing quite a display and singing its heart out. It was a treat to watch.

Dipper Singing during a display

Wings spread at its sides and vibrated, tail feathers stretched wide and beak upturned to point at the sky.

The two birds then remained together within eye shot of each other and strayed to hunt the river and feed.

Lovely pose as it was about to dive in the water.

The river water looks very clean at them moment which is very encouraging. Litter remains a real eye sore. Its a shame people do not clean up after themselves.

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