Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dipper

Photographing dippers can be a frustrating business - they have a habit of waiting until you get within range then flying off around a bend in the river, a sequence that's repeated until they get to the limit of their territory, when they turn around and fly back downstream. This one, on the River Derwent near Blanchland in Northumberland, was more accommodating because, I suspect, it's one of this year's juveniles. It's remarkable how well its plumage blends with the peaty-brown colour of the water - take your eye off one of these delightful birds for a moment and it can be a struggle to locate it again.

In this picture it's plunging into the current to feed. Dippers can swim like ducks but also walk under water, held down by the pressure of the current on their back, searching amongst the stones for food items. It's interesting how it seems to close its eyes when it pushes its head into the water - much as we might when we dive into a swimming pool. I assume they must open them again once they're submerged...

This is the moment when it became aware of my presence - and whizzed off around the bend in the river...

3 comments:

  1. These are superb Dipper images. I have noticed them closing their eyes but assumed they have an inner eyelid. Like gannets.

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  2. Hi Adrian, they do have a third eyelid (nyctitating membrane) that's white - very conspicuous when they blink!

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  3. What marvellous pictures Phil. I've never seen one close up like that before.

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