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Nation diary: dancing and diving, a dipper braves the ice-cold river

Black Banks Plantation, Weardale, County Durham Upkeep of insulating plumage is significant for a chook whose survival is dependent upon feeding underwater

It was a morning of brittle magnificence, the perfect type of winter day. Final night time’s magical transformation remained intact; rusty-brown bracken fronds fringed with frost crystals and ice-encrusted leaves that crunched underfoot. No trace of a thaw but; the low elevation of the solar had left this facet of the riverbank in deep shadow. The chilly air stung our cheeks.

In nonetheless swimming pools beside the river, the 6mm-thick ice should have frozen step by step in a single day, from the sides inwards because the water stage dropped, creating concentric oval patterns with elegant artwork nouveau prospers round their margins. In a couple of locations, ice sheets remained suspended between the trunks of alders, creaking and groaning when the wind disturbed their branches.

Associated: Nation diary: kingfisher conjures up fantasy

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