My love of the Dipper started as a small boy, I’d catch two buses from my home with my bag packed with cold toast and a flask to get to Lathkill Dale, in the Peak District. Once I got there I’d sit and watch these incredible birds play out their lives before me. Over the years they’ve always brought a smile to my face with their charismatic bobbing or dipping movements which I’ve always viewed as the bird ‘Curtsying’ for you.
Dippers are members of the genus Cinclus in the bird family Cinclidae, named for their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater. Dipper’s forage for small prey in and around the fast-flowing streams and rivers of this area, walking down and beneath the water until partly or wholly submerged.
Unlike many water birds, dippers are generally similar in form to many terrestrial birds but they do have some adaptations to their aquatic life. They don’t have webbed feet but their wings are relatively short but strongly muscled, enabling them to be used as flippers underwater. Their bones are solid instead of hollow which reduces their buoyancy.
They have dense plumage with a large preen gland for waterproofing their feathers. They have relatively long legs and sharp claws enable them to hold on to rocks in fast water. Their eyes have well-developed focus muscles that can change the curvature of the lens to enhance underwater vision. They have nasal flaps to prevent water entering their nostrils. They are an amazing bird once you stop and take a closer look.
Dippers have fascinated from a young age and have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. They were the first workshop I ran when I turned professional. You can read the blog post I did after running that very first Dipper workshop by clicking here. I also had my first article published in the Birdwatching Magazine back in 2009 which you can see and read about by clicking here.
Fast forward nine years and these Dippers workshops I run within the beautiful Peak District are as popular as ever. Over the last few weeks I’ve been working at a number of my Dippers sites. The snow and weather has slightly delayed some of the Dippers as they are still lining their nests now when they should be on eggs as they are earlier nesters having two broods per year normally. While other Dippers are up and down the river due to high water levels as the recent snow melts.
My love of this bird goes back to childhood and they never fail to entertain me, it’s always a pleasure to show clients around these beautiful places.
If you’d like to join me on one of these days then please click on the following link which will tell you everything and the dates available.