A short-tailed, plump bird with a low, whirring flight. When perched on a rock it habitually bobs up and down and frequently cocks its tail. Its white throat and breast contrasts with its dark body plumage. It is remarkable in its method of walking into and under water in search of food.
Key ID Features:
Almost exclusively found on fast flowing, tree lined rivers, mostly in upland areas unless driven to lower areas by harsh weather.
The blackish body becomes browner from the neck to the head.
A bold white chest sits between a chestnut belly and stout dark bill.
Thick black legs and large feet help it cling to rocks in rapids where it constantly bobs up and down before diving for prey.
Juveniles are paler with pale feather edges.
Scientific name: Cinclus cinclus
Family: Dippers (Cinclidae)
Where to see them:
Found along fast-flowing rivers, mainly in upland areas but also on lowland rivers in SW England. Look for tell-tale droppings on stones in the river.
Seen in UK:
All year round.
What they eat
Insect larvae and freshwater shrimps.
Text (c) RSPB, used with permission
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Photographer: Tim Tapley