Mark Cocker

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A great new adventure began in 2012 when I acquired a little over five acres of neglected fen woodland on the banks of the River Yare. The intention over the next years is to upraise its wildlife potential through practical work and with the support of others, but especially my friend, poet Matt Howard. Blackwater Blog is a way of recording these slow-won achievements and celebrating this glorious patch of wild Norfolk.


Aside perhaps from northern lapwing, no bird is more emblematic of my home county Derbyshire than this wonderful little character. A bird of the year, I suspect, with frosty tips to his flight and mantle feathers, this individual dipper was in Wolfscote Dale and doing what the species does best - mingling humour with character. After diving in and hunting underwater several times, bobbing around like a pied cork, it alighted on a stone and in the riverside, where it proceeded to add its own burbling aqueous song to the downstream journey of the River Dover. It barely opened its beak but you could see the song like a morsel of nourishment pulsing and bulging in its white throat.


The Birds of Derbyshire by Roy Frost and Steve Shaw (2013) doesn't mention any regional decline but I cannot help thinking that this glorious creature is less common than it was in my Derbyshire youth. In case these pics are not enough I have posted a little Youtube footage so you can enjoy this dipper's riversong for yourself. I love the way that the sound resembles the noise of gushing water; and, since all the bird's energy derives from these same limestone streams, it is truthfully the River Dove made into music. Click here


© Mark Cocker 2013


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