• Nick Bartrum

Down by the River

Once across the busy road, it feels like another world. The river valley I have come to, in search of dippers, is like stepping into an untouched Eden, especially at 5am on a June morning when no one else is around. I imagine it is my own private paradise, and having scrambled over the dry-stone wall, I make the gentle descent down to the river with densely wooded hills rising on either side.


It is just a short walk to the banks of the river, which in places has the bucolic feel of a John Constable painting, with cattle quietly grazing in the buttercup rich riverside meadows with some cooling off in the shallows.

There are dippers all along this river and it does not take long before I spot one bobbing through the fast-flowing current, dipping its head just under the surface in search of juicy aquatic invertebrates.


My aim is to photograph juvenile dippers, and I have arrived back at the river a little over five weeks after a previous visit. I can already see this becoming a yearly pilgrimage in the springtime, especially now that I am learning about their behaviour, preferred territory, and nest sites. It is the knowledge gathered from repeated observation that informs where the best photographic opportunities may occur.

I have quite a few unfulfilled goals when it comes to images I would like to capture, which means I will have to return, but what follows is a small selection of video clips and stills captured during my springtime outing to the river. I hope you enjoy them.


An adult dipper, searching for tasty aquatic invertebrates.


A juvenile dipper.


An adult dipper.


My precariously balanced tripod and camera.


River reflections.


A balancing act. My Gitzo tripod was the perfect tool for the job.


The dippers were not the only wildlife on the river, and I have to say I enjoyed photographing the mallards just as much.


A male mallard.


I discovered this lovely juvenile dipper tucked up in a cavity of a river weir.


Turn the volume up to listen to the calming sounds of the river.


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