Callum Herd has again been out and about with his camera and sends me this:
“I was walking along the side of the Esk and spotted this Dipper. I thought that I was reasonably concealed but as you can see – it was also looking at me! I was interested to note that its chest was more of a speckled colour than the normal white. I would be interested to know if this a youngster, or does the female not have a white breast?”
Well, Callum, it is indeed a Dipper and, as you guessed, one of this year’s youngsters, a juvenile. These differ markedly from the adults which, as you so rightly state,have pure white breasts. There are other, less noticeable plumage differences too.
As you can see, this bird has a fairly speckled back, which adult Dippers do not. To answer Callum’s question, adult male and female Dippers are pretty much identical.
I recall leading a a guided walk by the Esk when a Dipper landed close by.
Of course, I am used to the fact that Dippers will casually walk into the river and totally disappear, but it was amusing to note the amazement of the youngsters when the bird demonstrated this unique feeding method!
I always think we are so lucky that such an unusual bird is so common and its underwater walking trick so easily witnessed.
Many thanks to Callum for letting us see his pictures once more.