Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Black-bellied Dipper, Needham Market

Being in Ipswich, I took the opportunity to visit Needham Market, Suffolk. Here, along the quaint little River Gippling a Black-bellied Dipper Cinclus cinclus cinclus had taken up refuge. The trip proved its worth, when after a short wait, at the weir just north of Hawks Mill, I was greeted with fantastic views of this rare subspecies. I was left to enjoy the bird to myself for almost an hour, before the fading light forced me to leave.

There are an incredible 13 subspecies of Dipper in the world, distinguished solely by plumage colour, only three of which actually occur in Britain and Ireland. Hibernicus and gularis are residents to the UK, with the former being found in Ireland and western Scotland, whilst the latter are the commoner and reside across the rest of Britain. The third Subspecies to occur in Britain is cinclus, this species is more commonly found in northern Scandinavia, western France, northwestern Spain, Corsica and Sardinia. However cinclus does occasionally venture further afield during its winter dispersal as weather becomes unbearable in the higher regions of Scandinavia and the odd bird is spotted along a stream somewhere in Britain, interestingly this is the nominate race of this species.

Hibernicus and gularis are near impossible to separate, but Black-bellied Dipper is an easier task. Instead of having a chestnut brown belly and vent, which our British Dippers have, it is replaced with a darker more deep brown close to black.