Mike's 200 bird challenge Blog 5

Andy Rouse

Another lovely sunny day and another quick afternoon dash to a local beauty spot on the hunt for one of my favourite species, the Dipper.

The Darnford Brook flows down from the Longmynd through Ratlinghope to Bridges where it joins the Onny, through lovely old growth woodland which provides the perfect habitat for these water loving birds.

The valley is managed for wildlife, with many nest boxes for the two types of flycatcher that return to the woodlands in spring, the Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, and I hope to see these later in the year. But for now a perfectly positioned bench by the footpath overlooking some rocks in the stream which are evidently favourite dipper perches, beckoned. It seemed a good idea to sit in the dappled sun shining through the still naked branches of the trees, and hope that the bird in question would grace me with an appearance.

 

Dipper

Andy Rouse

Almost an hour later, no dippers, but a pair of treecreepers calling and displaying in the trees above me made up for their absence. However, scouring the brook on my way back down the valley, I was rewarded with a fleeting view of a dipper flying downstream and managed to find it perched on a branch under the bridge. I watched it for a while as it preened its feathers, until it flew past me upstream and out of sight.

I will return to this lovely valley in spring and hopefully have better views of the dipper, along with the flycatchers and other spring migrants that nest in the woods.  

 

Mike Bell