I’ve got two ques­tions for you about a Dip­per feed­ing and a Swal­low div­ing!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QOn a walk last week near Ull­swa­ter, I was watch­ing a Dip­per feed­ing when I heard a splash be­hind me. I looked around to see a Swal­low emerg­ing from the wa­ter! The same Swal­low re­peated this dive into the wa­ter a fur­ther three times in the next few min­utes. I have never heard of this be­hav­iour be­fore! Is this un­usual? I have also at­tached a photo of the Dip­per. It had caught a fish. Same ques­tion – is this un­usual? It seemed to know what it was do­ing as it bashed the fish on the rock mul­ti­ple times to kill it! John Draper

AThis is a great ex­am­ple of how even fa­mil­iar birds con­stantly throw up ques­tions about new or un­usual be­hav­iour! Tak­ing the Swal­low first, it’s cer­tainly not some­thing they’re reg­u­larly seen do­ing, although they do drink by dip­ping into wa­ter as they fly. There are pre­vi­ous oc­cur­rences of plunge-div­ing like this, though, and it’s gen­er­ally thought that they do it as a sort of ‘ex­treme bathing’, to try to dis­lodge par­a­sites. While Dippers do feed mainly on the un­der­wa­ter larvae of in­sects, es­pe­cially cad­dis­flies, they are known to take fish when the op­por­tu­nity presents it­self, and this ju­ve­nile has clearly learned quickly to ex­ploit this food source. Well done for get­ting such good pho­tos of this in­trigu­ing be­hav­iour.

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