Angus D. Birditt
The Dipper's Nest
The dipper is one of those birds that is a true hunter-gatherer, both adept to foraging on land and underneath the water. It certainly is a sight to behold seeing a dipper come springtime, the season when it starts to build the nest and forage for insects to feed it's young.
The artistry of a dipper’s nest alone is an example of the brilliance of this bird. I often go to the banks of the River Dee in Wales to see it building a new nest every year. The dipper knows the seasons and habits of the river here in Wales, only starting the nest late in spring, exactly when the river is low and there is no threat of it rising - they normally build low on the sides of banks or bridges nearby. The nest itself is a beautiful creation of moss, mud and straw, the latter probably taken from the horses that feed nearby. This photograph above was taken from the other side of the river with a zoom lens so not to disturb the dippers at all.
The dipper is an amazing bird, the size of a song thrush, with the agility of a sparrow hawk, and the swimming skills of a kingfisher. Over the season, I have been keeping a close eye on these dippers and their nest. They are beguiling creatures, diving underneath the river water for long durations to catch small fish and the like. Then, after being submerged, they burst out of the water, dart down the course of the river, and land with a great splash in the shallow banks on the other side, dipping their famous dip dance to dry off.
I am happy to say that the parents I have been watching over the season here in the Dee Valley are raising young in their nest - dippers often raise around 2-3 offspring each season. If you see one of these beautiful nests, be sure to keep a safe distance as the parents won't be too far away foraging for food. -