Monday, 28 January 2013

Dipper

On wet Sundays, when the hills really aren't much fun but we need some exercise, we walk down the road past the shop and as far through Kilchoan village as we feel - which is what we did yesterday after the deluge during Saturday night.  But, for no particular reason, we diverted to the little beach that runs along the Kilchoan Bay frontage of Ormsaigmore, which gives access to the mouth of the Millburn.  Unsurprisingly, the burn was in flood, but we spotted a small bird hopping around on the rocks by the sea - a dipper.

We were thrilled, on two counts.  Firstly, we'd only seen a dipper once before, almost twenty years ago on a pretty little river near Fort Augustus; and secondly, The Raptor has seen one here on West Ardnamurchan - on the Allt Choire Mhuillinn - and, until yesterday, we hadn't.


The bird was surprisingly tame, allowing us to approach to within ten metres, even though he seemed a little agitated.  We came to the conclusion that he, like us, wasn't enjoying the weather - the swollen stream covered most of the rocks from which dippers usually hunt.  'Hunt' is the right word, because dippers are an unusual bird in that they feed underwater, 'walking' along the bottom and turning over stones in search of invertebrates and small fish.

There's a very full description of the dipper here, in which it states that there are two races resident in Britain.  Our one, which we share with Ireland, is Cinclus cinclus hibernicus.  There's another good, descriptive website here.

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