The Dipper Experience

Juvenile Dipper leaving the nest for the first time

When I lived close to the River Greta than runs through the village of Burton in Lonsdale. I was always walking the banks looking for the King of the river.

Most mornings would start early and my plan was always the same let nature come to you. Sitting listening to the water that comes from the mountains of Ingleborough is so relaxing.

Hearing the call of the Kingfisher wakes me from my trance. Will it land or just fly by was always the question. As I sit i hear tha Dipper calling a bird that has extraordinary skills under water.

I had photographed them before but just by chance I was very close to the nest site. I only found it by chance as the Dipper was bringing in nesting material for the nest.

Not to disturb it i retreated further back into a thick like grass for better cover and to get more comfy as my Hip was really hurting and I couldn’t stay in one position for over 20 mins.

Little did I know it was coming out of the hip joint worn away through wear and tear. Anyway it went into the small rock face area halfway up the banking. Then came back out and landed on the same rock situated in the middle of the river.

Adult Dipper with nest material

I left that day when i had found a good place where to film them and without any disturbance to the family of Dippers. About 4 days late i returned and set up on the river bank and waited for them to make an appearance. Time went by and i started to worry that the nest had been found by a Mink or Stoat. Just then in a tree to the right i saw movement and my worst fears were met when a huge Male Mink came out of the tree stump and made its way towards the Dipper nest.

The Mink is not native to the UK and reaps havoc on the Kingfisher and Dipper destroying family broods and taking fish from the river. Yes i love all animals and would never see any suffer but this looked like the reason the Dipper family was not round.

The Mink moved off down river and i went home. I went down 2 days later to see if the Kingfisher was about when i spotted the Dipper heading towards the spot were i was watching them. Making my way down the river another dipper flew in but instead of nesting material it had some kind of grub in its beak.

Dipper bringing food in for the young

I was so happy to see that they survived the presence of the Mink and were raising their brood high up in the rocks. Over the next week i returned every day to keep an eye on the nest and how they were doing. Photography is strange sometimes as it makes you do things that work in your favour and this is whet happened when i returned the day the fledged.

I went on the other side of the river and sat above the nest but hidden from view from the adults. It was just amazing to sit and wait for the adults coming in so close with food. What i didn’t expect was to be there when the first young Dipper left the nest. It was like a Wildlife documentary, i sat there when all of a sudden the Juvenile dipper flew out for the first time and landed on a rock right in front of me.

Juvenile Dipper leaving the nest.

The knowledge you get from observing wildlife is on another level, books and TV programmes are lovely but you learn so much more from seeing it as it happens. The adults came in one after an other to feed the young as they left the nest and i witnessed all getting fed food from the river. Opening their beaks as wide as the can to take the food from mum and dad.

Feed me Mum

The family progressed and i left the Dipper family after they fledged. What am amazing experience to have on the river bank.

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