Monday, 21 April 2014

Dipper



A weeks walking holiday with the family in the Lake District kept me busy but still left me with a few opportunities for birdwatching. Top of my birding list, whenever I am in the mountains, is always the Dipper and this year I was fortunate enough to find a pair about a quarter of a mile from our cottage nesting underneath a bridge.


Dipper













They always appear to be such an active bird, constantly in and out of the water gathering food, and then flying back to the nest with mouths full of assorted invertebrates. They also seem very tolerant of people. This pair where nesting under a busy footpath with children throwing rocks into the river, where only a few minutes before I had seen the birds searching for food. Fortunately most people don't seem to notice nature happening around them and the nest in a shaded spot underneath a small bridge went unnoticed by the people passing by.


Dipper at the nest - The camera lies,
 the nest was much darker and harder to spot than this picture shows


Feeding the young

searching for food underwater


and on the rocks

Must be a lot of young to feed

It's a fascinating bird to watch as it walks or swims underwater looking for larvae or flies up and down its stretch of river with rapid wing beats just a few inches above the water.


Also on the river were a small group of Grey Wagtails. Not as close as I would have liked but at least this one kept its tail still long enough for a picture.


Grey Wagtail

Bassenthwaite Lake with its Osprey observation point was only a couple of miles away. Checking the map it did not look very promising. The nest site looked to be about a mile from the observation point and would be well beyond the range of my camera. Still there were telescopes provided at the observation point, it would be a year tick, and there was always the chance of a flyby.


Spot the Osprey - Camera view about the equivalent of a pair of 10X50 binoculars

Heavily cropped and a bit of a mess but it is a year tick


We saw the Osprey (just) through the telescope but there was no flyby. In fact the Osprey did not leave the nest and adjacent tree in the time we watched.  More details on the Bassenthwaite Osprey at http://www.ospreywatch.co.uk/ . There is also a public hide on the A66 that would give good views if the birds were fishing out over the lake.

Up on the hills there were plenty of Wheatears on show and they all seemed to be males. I had a go at getting pictures but they were all very skittish. Then early one morning I found this one sitting on the wall close by the cottage. He seemed a lot slower than the rest and looking at the picture you can see some form of wound on its chest, possibly caused by a pellet or some form of parasite. He still looks good though, so I just hope he made it up on to the hill and found a mate.


Wheatear





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