Friday, 15 February 2013

Otter & Black Bellied Dipper - nice

I finally had a day free to drive the 50 miles to Thetford in search of the Black Bellied Dipper that has been wintering in the town.

I'd been told that all I need to do was follow the increasingly muddy trail from the car park until I found the birders who would already be in attendance.

Black Bellied Dipper, Thetford
This went to plan but what I hadn't expected was for the bird to be so confiding. I arrived behind a couple of photographers and the bird was perched on a branch in the water may be one and half metres in front of them and completely unperturbed as it was followed closely  up the shallow and narrow woodland stream.

It spent a lot of time sitting still, occasionally bobbing and flashing its white eyelid [I love it when Dippers do that]. Then it would enter the water and emerge with a small dead leaf which it would batter vigorously until it detached and ate the invertebrate it was after.

Whilst watching the Dipper a dog walker mentioned that there was an Otter on the main river 20 metres of so away and there was a muddy scramble as 7 or 8 camouflaged photographers dashed across the muddy field to be greeted by an otter initially feeding on the opposite side of the river. Then it dived and ordinarily you might expect it to disapper but this Otter just kept popping up closer and closer to us and was not bothered by the crowd of snappers following along the river bank. At its closest it was no more than a metre away from me.

Otter at Thetford
After the Otter I spent a bit more time with the Dipper. Before deciding to move on. Next stop was Santon Downham where I had hoped to luck into Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  I didn't catch up with one of these but I did manage to see a nice ranger of woodland birds. Then a brief stop at Lyndford Arboretum where again the target bird [this time Hawfinch] failed to materialise.

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