Latin name: Cinclus cinclusDipper

Size: Length 18cm

Where: Upland streams and rocky rivers, for example around Loch Earn, Glen Finglas and Glen Falloch

When: All year round

Walk by any tumbling burn or boulder-strewn river in the National Park and you are likely to see a dipper – or at least catch a flash of its spray-white bib as it zips upstream on its stubby, sooty-black wings. Between a robin and a blackbird in size, these jaunty little birds are completely at home in the torrents. They often make their dome-shaped nests behind waterfalls or weirs, forcing their chicks to brave the pounding water to make their first flights.

Few birds are as well named as the dipper. You will see them bobbing on the rocks in mid-stream like curtseying Victorian housemaids. Stay and watch and you may be rewarded by the sight of one walking straight down into the water to feed on the river bed, hunting for a juicy caddis fly larva or water snail.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods