Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Dipper courtship

 I watched this pair of dippers courting along a stretch of the river Wear near Wolsingham in Weardale earlier this week. It's very difficult to tell the sexes apart but I'm pretty sure that's the male on the right, with his body stretched upwards. The female is fanning her tail and fluttering her wings. There's some brief wing fluttering going on in the second picture too. 

The distinctive white eyelid of  the bird that is blinking shows nicely.

Apart from this posturing, courtship seemed to mainly consist of the male pursuing the female up and down the river. Dippers always nest here, under an overhanging rock on the riverbank, and have a well-defined territory; rival pairs tend to confront each other at territorial boundaries early in the season, and usually turn back when they reach a rival's territory. They also sing with notes that are pitched at a level where they can be heard above the tumult of the river.

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