I drove to Wykeham forest today for a chance to see the regular Honey Buzzards there. I was relieved when I saw the raptor viewpoint sign as I thought I had got lost. I arrived around 8:30 am and there were already several birdwatchers on site with large telescopes, but little else. No raptors or many other birds about other than a few gulls soaring on the thermals. I decided to walk down the river Derwent to try and see a Dipper, which would be my first of the year. I walked down the hill by the steep Moor Lane, with the path dotted with cracked snail shells left behind by Song Thrushes. A Chiffchaff sung, groups of young Robins and Chaffinches fed on the path. At the bottom of the hill I crossed Troutdale beck and joined the road. By the bridge I walked down onto a footpath and sat on a wooden step on the fence overlooking the river. The place looked like the perfect dipper spot, rocky bottom, rapidly flowing water. The shrill calls of two disturbed Kingfishers distracted me for a while. After they had disappeared I realised that there was actually a Dipper just in front of me. It behaved like it hadn't spotted me, dipping its head under the water every few seconds, facing the current, lifting leaves like a blackbird to fetch little critters underneath, stopping to preen a little. I spent about 20 minutes watching it and taking videos and photos until it carried along downstream.
I followed the narrow path downstream too. A large dragonfly, dark with paler marks, probably a Golden-Ringed dragonfly, flew along the middle of the river. I didn't see it settle unfortunately, as it was my first.
It was time to head back up the hill. I spent another hour on the viewpoint. Some birders had seen a pair of distant honeybuzzards, but other than buzzards, there was nothing else to report.
Raptor Viewpoint sign.
Panoramic across the Raptor Viewpoint.
The dipper had a metal ring.
View of the stretch of the Derwent where I saw the Dipper and the Kingfishers.
A short clip of the dipper feeding.
Another stretch of the river.
Nice gate, but no cranes about.
The snail hunter. Song Thrush.