Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tales From the Riverbank...Part Two...Dippers, Wagtails et al

16th April. Target number one for the day was the Dippers. One of my favourite bird species and one that encouraged me to take up bird watching even before I had actually seen one in the field. Having just a passing interest in wildlife at that time, the experience taught me just how important it is to make others with passing interests fully aware of what is out there and try to ensure that they at least take a look. That is the only way we will ever ensure an interest in conservation. No doubt I have said that before, but I make no apology as I’ll no doubt say it many times again. It wasn’t long until we had found them, and Sam and I began and ended the day with two lengthy watches of the pair. This pair appears to still be nest building, putting them some way behind other pairs we have seen recently. We managed to gain a good understanding of the territory, flight patterns being covered and of the bird’s behaviour. I believe we heard them singing for a short period which I understand isn’t uncommon during nest building. We found the nest site, but obviously kept a discreet distance from it. As with another site we have visited, Grey Wagtails appear to be nesting or preparing to nest nearby.

Bird song is building up now and the notable song of the Blackcap was heard along with the inevitable Chiffchaffs and other woodland species. The song of the Song Thrush was once again well represented. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard, but never seen. Jays were heard then eventually seen as we walked up river. Seed had been put out in places and this attracted Nuthatches, one of which had a clearly deformed curved bill, Treecreeper, tits and finches.

Flora seen along the way included Common Comfrey, Violet species, Forgetmenot species, Bluebell, Wild Garlic, Red Campion and the most prolific, Wood Anemone.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa (The pure white being far more abundant than the purple).

The bird species which took our attention, almost as much as the Dippers, were the Grey Wagtails once again, with a pair showing really well. Lack of activity seemed to me to suggest that these birds have not yet nested, but I may have that wrong. We watched a lone male bird at length up river before finding the pair later in the day. I can’t be sure if the lone male bird was or was not one of this pair found later.

Our day ended with a Dipper watch. Sam managed to capture very well the bird’s image in flight. It certainly is not an easy bird to photograph in flight and it took time to get to know its flight lines and behaviour. I captured it too, but afraid I have to practice somewhat to match his standards.:-) I think we may be back up here soon and hopefully, may find the Kingfisher the next time. We were given some advice on that subject from the friendly angler that we spoke to who has in past years found the Kingfishers nesting site during his expeditions on the river. This showing how valuable the experience is of someone who really knows the patch. All in all, it had been a very nice and relaxing day that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks Sam.

17th April. Today I’ve been on patch. It didn’t rain as forecast. Some interesting developments with the Great Crested Grebes. At least two Blackcaps, two Willow Warblers and numbers of Chiffchaff sang south of the village.

A recent political newsletter seems to suggest we can forget about any work being done on the floating reed-bed. The non-reedbed’s sad looking photo appears in the newsletter. It seems that even the new sports centre is threatened! That is according to the Conservatives and of course, and as far as they are concerned, it’s all the fault of the Labour Party. Oh, I see the local elections are coming up soon. Surprise, Surprise! The Labour Party newsletter has now arrived and low and behold I now see it is all the fault of the Conservatives! I best just go birding on 3rd May


  1. Always nice to see the Dippers, I could watch them for hours

  2. I could watch them for hours too, which is just as well as I have been doing that in recent weeks.:-) Thanks. Brian

  3. I see from part 2 that there was actually a lot more than just Dipper watching, lol. But this will of course have been one of the highlights no doubt.

    Plessey Woods never seems to disappoint and it will be great there a few weeks from now I'd think!

    Hopefully the political newsletter was just propaganda re: the reed bed. (But you're probably wise making plans for 3rd May, lol).

  4. Plessey Woods can be very good Mark, outside of holiday times. I need to explore the surrounding area a little more. Cheers.

  5. Cheers Brian, I'll be happy to accompany you there when possible.