Country diary: A small bird taking on a swollen river

Country diary: A small bird taking on a swollen river

Miller’s Dale, Derbyshire: Amid a shower of falling leaves, the dipper is amazingly unfazed by the power of the water

You could see how the westerlies churned through the autumn trees, and it was most striking among the big mature beeches, up in the canopy, where the orange and gold foliage twisted like a tidal current. There was also a heavy fall of thousands – if not millions – of leaves but flighting in separate gusts, so on one occasion, while I recognised a lower shower of five-fingered plates as sycamore leaves, there was a higher squall of beech that I initially mistook for a flock of finches.

Here, by the Angler’s Rest pub, the River Wye was super charged with last week’s rain, and fallen foliage was drifting everywhere in the current. I noticed that a grey heron had just speared what looked to be a little bullhead, but had simultaneously spiked a big yellow sycamore leaf.

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