Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Black-bellied Dipper and the return of P

I struggled to give this blog entry a title. There's a lot of significance to it. Its my first bit of proper birding this year so far and more significantly my first time birding since we moved to the UK, its also the first time I've twitched something in the UK, the first Black-bellied Dipper I've seen and the first time in a long time that Polina has joined me for some birding. I think that last part is the best bit!
Anyway, I got directions from a colleague in work for Thetford's Black-bellied Dipper. So shortly after lunchtime on Sunday, Polina and I headed down the A11 for our first UK twitch!
We pulled into the small car park at The Nun's Bridge and gathered our gear together.

The Nuns bridge - a snowy scene in Thetford - 20th January 2013
This was were the directions became a little sketchy. We wandered up along the stream in what turned out to be the wrong direction until we met a kind dog-walker who pointed us the right way....."my dear boy, you're in the completely the wrong place!". Anyway, within a few minutes we found the spot. Three other birders were already present and the bird was showing very well. We watched it bobbing up and down on its perch, jumping off occasionally to go for a quick swim. It seemed utterly impervious to the presence of people and was at times too close to even focus on. That said the light was poor and even at ISO800 I was only getting shutter speeds of 1/50s at best.
The other two birders switched over to the other side of the river bank while I found a nice tree to lean against.

Taking it easy as I twitch the Black-bellied Dipper
Polina showed greater dedication though and got down on her belly in the snow to get level with the bird.

Tougher than the rest........P roughs it in the snow!
Eventually the bird settled in an area that gave all of us equally good views.

Me, Polina and two others watch the Black-bellied Dipper at Thetford.
Here's a couple of movie clips taken from just in front of where we were in the above photo.

Youtube clip number one of Black-bellied Dipper

and here's one of it taking a little swim (sorry a little out of focus at times!)

 Youtube clip number two - swimming Dipper

 The light was poor as I said so these were the best shots I could manage.

Black-bellied Dipper, Thetford, Norfolk - 20th January 2013
As the light faded and the snow started again we both decided to call it a day. It was great to kick off my UK birding with such an obliging subject and great to have Polina out birding with me once again.....its been a while.
We've had a week of snow in Norwich and its pelting down outside once more as I write, hope the roads stay clear!


  1. Great shots despite the crappy light Graham. Good to see Polina back shooting some wildlife, I bet you're well happy. A good start to your year and the new area.

  2. Thanks Floss, to a good start and nice to have P back out taking bird pics.