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Tag Archives: dippers
The idea today was to go over to the Peak District and get there for day break for some pictures of Red Grouse and then pop over to Knypersley early afternoon and get some pictures of the Dipper, a place I have been to before and had considerable success.
It was -4.5 degrees centigrade. The reason for arriving at the Peaks at sunset was the wonderful atmospheric feel at this time of the morning when the early warm sun rises, and shines through the mist and lights up the snowy peaks and valleys. The forecast was for a sunny day, but as usual the weather forecasters got it wrong again and it turned out to be dull and drab. The first disappointment of the day.
There was a few Grouse about but mostly in the distance which was too far for a decent picture. Occasionally I would spot one nearer but they tended to hunker down trying not to show their position.
I had a few hours spare today so I thought it would be nice to see how the dippers were getting on. I had some nice pictures earlier in the season of this amazing water adapted bird. Walking to the river the two Grebes below were in a courtship ritual. I am not sure if they had nested earlier in the season or not.
The Great Crested Grebe has an elaborate mating display. Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set relatively far back it makes it difficult for them to walk very well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the fluffy, striped young grebe are often carried on the adult’s back. In a clutch of two or more hatchlings, male and female grebes will each identify their ‘favourites’, which they alone will care for and teach
Unusually, young grebes are capable of swimming and diving almost at hatching. The adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them.
The Crested Grebe feeds mainly on fish, but also little crustaceans, insects and small frogs.
This species was hunted almost to extinction in the UK in the 19th century for its head plumes, which were used to decorate hats and ladies’ undergarments. The RSPB was set up to help protect this species, which is again a common sight.
I got to the river and it was worrying to see how low it was. In places it was just a small trickle which could have meant a problem with food supply for the chicks. I sat in my usual place for about 1.5 hours and did not see any birds at all. I decided to go to another section of the river and within minutes a Dipper landed on a rock with a beak full insects and caddis larvae.
Had a couple of hours spare today so I decided to take a small walk along part of the Churnet Valley. I had no idea if I would get any decent Wildlife Photography shots but was delighted when I got a new lifer.
The source of the river is located over 1,000 feet above sea level in the Staffordshire moorlands, near to the Gritstone escarpment of the Roaches, it flows into the River Dane a mile south of Rocester which further down stream joins the River Trent which ultimately flows into the North sea.
Today was the first time I have ever seen a Pied Flycatcher. It is a summer visitor and spends the winter in Africa. This male has got a Yellow May Dun in its mouth to present to its young.
The Yellow May Dun is an aquatic insect. It is an up winged fly of the family Heptagenia and is widespread on rough rocky rivers which is typical of the River Churnet in places. There was an abundance of these flies today.
I was hoping to see the dippers today. I visited Knypersley about two weeks ago and walked to the small fast flowing stretch of water at the back of the small pool and caught a glimpse of one fleeting past me with that low whirring flight sound that is quite distinctive. They are masters of the air but even more so, masters of the water. It is remarkable to watch them feed on the waters edge then walk into and often under the water, partly or sometimes totally submerged in search of food amongst the stones.