Yesterday (Saturday) I decided not to do any local owling, instead I opted to do a bit of "general birding" in the Peak District. Not exactly local birding but the hour or so drive would hopefully be rewarded with some Dippers, a super little bird and I knew of a couple of likely locations where if I was lucky enough a sighting or two would be made and you never know maybe some images?
Upon arrival at the "secret" location things didn't look very promising, the river was well swollen and carrying a couple of feet of extra water, a consequence from the heavy overnight rain, doooh! Unperturbed I walked the bank in search of my quarry, the first bird sighting I made was not of a Dipper but of a couple of Goosanders. They were very wary of me and headed off upstream, but not before I was able to grab a record shot of them, below.
The Goosanders were nice to see but they were not what I'd made the 60 mile journey for! It wasn't until I reached the furthest point of the access area that the first Dipper was seen. It had been feeding in a quiet area out of the flow above the weir, my presence flushed it over to the far bank and underneath some overhanging trees, too dark and too far away for any images! At this stage I about turned and slowly retraced my tracks back to the car. On the return journey I did locate another three birds, but because the river had rose so much the rocks that they normally perch on in the middle of the river were completely submerged, this was going to be a struggle.
I did however managed a couple of record shots of the Dippers, but I had to make do with distance shots that I knew were always going to be heavily cropped and quality lost, I guess my 300mm lens was just not up to the job.
I didn't plan on the tough conditions that I found the river in, I wasn't going to waste my time here struggling all day, so what to do now? Now I know I said I was having a day off from the owls but I knew a couple of Little Owl sites in this area, I hadn't been to see them for well over a year so it would have been rude not to stop off to see if they were still about?
I needn't have worried, both owls were still in residence at the first owl site and how good was my luck, they were both out! They stayed distant but at least they contributed to it not being a completely wasted journey. The sun periodically put in an appearance, which made for some nice "scenic" images with the owls on the the dry stone walls.
During the trip plenty of other birds were seen, which was nice but the day was a bit flat really because of the condition of the river and the lack of Dipper activity. But I am not one for giving up, I shall return very soon and hopefully next time I'll have a bit more luck?