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