Dippers on a Sunday

One of the reasons for choosing the areas I have been over the last week or so was because I was looking for Dippers. I remember the fuss a few years back when a Black Bellied Dipper was spotted on the River Aire. Birders came down to the river looking for a reported Black Bellied Dipper but saw only Common Dippers – therefore the Black Bellied Dipper did not exist. If you read my previous posting you will know that I had seen a Common Dipper as it flew past my head, so now was the time to go find one to get some photos. Some of my closest sightings of Dippers had been on Loadpit Beck where it joins the river at Hirst Mill, so on Sunday I decided to try that beck but further up.

Duck on Crag Hebble Dam

I started at the pond created by Crag Hebble Dam. The surface of the water was covered by green plants that the ducks seemed to be eating happily. Dozens of blue Damselflies were fluttering about the surface.

Grey Wagtail, Crag Hebble Dam

At the far side was a Grey Wagtail running up and down a branch at the water surface and then leaping to catch a Damselfly. It missed slightly more often than it was successful but with the size of them I guess it would soon be full.

Grey Wagtail, Crag Hebble Dam

Looking at the head and neck of the Wagtail suggests that it has spent a lot of its energy feeding youngsters. A few Damselflies will give it the energy to feed smaller things to its young.

I then went further up the beck getting away from the noise of people on rope swings and splashing in the water. Further up I spotted quite a large tent that was quite well hidden behind some trees. It was over on the west side and looked as though it had been there quite a long time.

Once I had got away from the noise I spotted several more Grey Wagtails and continued to follow the beck.

Dipper, Loadpit Beck

When watching a Wagtail I looked a bit further up the beck and spotted the white chest of a Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) in a pool of bright sunlight. If I had been thinking straight I would have dialled in some underexposure, or at least looked at the image on the screen to see that some of them were blown out. As it is, with the spot metering, it was not too bad.

Dipper, Loadpit Beck

Because I was always downstream I never got in a position to see the Dipper dive into the water. Each time it hopped down into the water rocks got in the way of me seeing it. It is incredible that it can walk on the river bed. You think of birds being almost lighter than air, and here is one that can appear to be heavier than water. It also seemed quite good at spotting me and going behind large rocks.

Robin, Loadpit Beck

While I was following it I also watched Wrens and Robins coming down to the beck for insects that were all over. One of the insects took a liking to my elbow so I now have a red, warm, itchy area that will probably last a couple of days.

Speckled Wood, Shipley Glen

Plenty of butterflies were around too but it was tricky to get far enough away to take a photo. This is a Speckled Wood.

Meadow Brown, Shipley Glen

and this one a Meadow Brown.

Fungus, Shipley Glen

Heading up out of the glen to Bracken Hall Green I spotted this fungus sprouting out under some bracken. I have no idea what it is called. It was about 5 cms tall and 2 cms diameter.

Thistles, Bracken Hall Green

I spent a few minutes watching the sheep, lambs and rabbits in the fields to the East of Glen Road keeping an eye on the thistles just over the wall. These are further on than the thistles I saw around Tong Park Dam and I was hoping that a Goldfinch or two would come down onto them. I could hear them in the trees but they didn’t oblige.

Small Tortoiseshel, Bracken Hall Green

After getting back up onto Bracken Hall Green I went into the grounds of Bracken Hall Countryside Centre and had a natter with John, he is a fountain of wildlife knowledge. While talking to him several Small Tortoiseshell butterflies landed on the white Buddleia and on the wall of Bracken Hall House.

As usual you can click on any of the images to see it larger at Flickr. I have now scrapped the Java script that Flickr adds and set it so the link takes you to a larger image to the ones I have been using recently.

Leave a Reply