Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sandwiches and Dippers

I like to indulge in some photography during my lunch hour at work. It's always good just to get away from the office, stretch the legs and take in some fresh air. One such lunch hour favourite is the Dippers that inhabit a local stream. These lunch hour trips are always a bit of a rush around, and allowing for travel time, I end up with around 40 minutes to find the birds and try and get some photographs. My sandwich usually being eaten on the move.

Its always tricky lighting conditions in this stream that tumbles down through a woodland valley. Time is limited, as once the riparian trees burst into leaf, the stream will be plunged into deep shade, effectively ruling out any photography. So I decided to start my brief sessions with the Dippers earlier this year, as I have always previously tried for them around March. As the sun is still low in the sky, the light reaching the swirling water is limited at the moment but should improve rapidly over the coming weeks. I hope to try and make a more concerted effort with these fascinating birds this year and that numerous short sessions will help me build a better picture of their habits. To date I have managed two visits due to the continuing poor weather.
My first visit was encouraging as I managed to locate two birds which both seem to have fairly well defined territories along the stream, making location potentially easier for future sessions where time is so precious. The Dippers are relatively easy to find as the search area is restricted to the narrow corridor of the brook.

One of the birds unfortunately appears to have an infected foot. However, it does not seem to be affecting it too much at present and it has been a joy watching it plunging in to the shallow rapids to feed.
I was pleased to see on my second session that this easily recognisable bird had already seemed to pair up with a mate, in this early breeding species.
I left both of them at the end of last week checking out some potential sites to build a nest.

Despite the narrow search area and their incredibly bright white breast, they are surprisingly easy birds to walk straight past.
However, I have managed to find and photograph birds on both sessions which is encouraging and should be able to build a small library of photos from multiple visits. A Dipper a day keeps the doctor away :).


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