For the last couple of months I’ve been keeping an eye out for any sign of our local Dippers, but up until Sunday afternoon I hadn’t had much luck. That all changed though as we approached a small bridge over the Dulais from where a loud and persistent call suggested we had finally located our quarry. We hurried over and found ourselves confronted with the sight of a fledgling swimming against the current in a highly canalised section of the river, just as the parent bird shot beneath us and disappeared around the next bend. I only had a few seconds to take in what was happening before overhanging vegetation on both banks obscured the young Dipper from view. By this point I was having flashbacks to an episode of Springwatch in which two cameramen were forced to watch a similar scene unfold, sadly without a happy ending. Despite knowing that interference is frowned upon, I had no wish to see the same events play out before my own eyes and was genuinely preparing to wade in when Emma thankfully spotted the bird.
Luckily it had managed to find a branch to climb onto and was at least out of any immediate danger. It seemed to take a couple of minutes to compose itself before flying upstream, presumably after the adult we’d seen head in the same direction. Phew! Once we had the place to ourselves I had a careful look under the bridge and could see what I think is the hole in which the Dippers had been nesting. Its positioning is such that any less than perfect exit would almost certainly result in a swim, a hazard which this particular birds maiden flight looks to have fallen foul of.
Up on Bryn-bach-Common the Yellowhammers were conspicuous by their absence but it was very nice to find a male and female Wheatear, my first on patch for 2012. There were also at least three Stonechats, one of which is shown below.
With the exception of two Swallows, a Skylark and the usual Meadow Pipits, everything else seemed rather on the quiet side. We did briefly get excited by a curiously plumaged raptor soaring way up the valley, but closer inspection of the few distant photos I took revealed it to be a young Buzzard. Earlier in the day we had been treated to the sight of two Shelducks circling over the back garden before landing in a field just behind. We had a pair do the same thing last year and for the life of me I can’t work out why. We aren’t that far from the Loughor estuary but surely there must be plenty of better places to go than up here in the hills. Does anyone have any suggestions as its certainly baffling me.