The American Dipper – a photo essay

Dipper cover-final

Here in southern Alberta winter is well and truly on its way, and the lakes, ponds and streams are starting to freeze over. The freeze tends to concentrate birds into open water areas, and this is something of a positive if you are trying to find certain birds as it minimizes the locations you have to work with. One bird that will over-winter here if it can find open streams (such as those fed by underground hot springs) is the American Dipper.

Flitting it and out amongst the rocks and braches in the stream, the Dipper continues its search for food

Flitting in and out amongst the rocks and braches in the stream, the Dipper continues its search for food

While not uncommon it is always a pleasure to watch this bird go about its daily routine. The Dipper surveying its domain.

Such was this case this past weekend where, having failed to find my target birds (owls of the boreal forest) I decided to check out a known Dipper location and quickly found one much to my delight.

Doing what it does best...dipping!

Doing what it does best…dipping!

Squawking away midstream

Squawking away midstream

This particular bird did not seem to my mind my company too much and was happy to go on dipping as it foraged for a meal…and found one!

Success! The Dipper finds a juicy insect larvae in the stream. The larvae was still wriggling as it was gobbled down.

Success! The Dipper finds a juicy insect larvae in the stream. The larvae was still wriggling as it was gobbled down.

I was interested to read that one of the dipper’s closest biological relatives is the thrush and when you see them up close you can definitely see the resemblance to the very common American Robin.

In close up, I can see the resemblance to robins.

In close up, I can see the resemblance to robins.

Are you still here, photographer?While this dipper was completely unfazed by the frigid stream waters, my gloved fingers were much less impervious to the cold air and I could only last 20 minutes before having to call time on this particular shoot due to the numbing cold.

Doing a little wing stretch after a bit of preening...a nice present for the photographer.

Doing a little wing stretch after a bit of preening…a nice present for the photographer.

Still, it was a rewarding  spell and I hope to return again soon to see this little guy in action once more!

(Note: all shots taken with Canon 1Dx + 1.4XIII Teleconverter + Canon 600mm ISII f4L lens. The fantastic noise-free high ISO of the 1Dx really came into play here as I was able to shoot at ISO 2500-3200 to allow high shutter speeds in the winter overcast.)

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4 Responses to The American Dipper – a photo essay

  1. Pingback: Birding News #43 | Prairie Birder

  2. Pingback: This Week in Birding 43 by Charlotte Wasylik | Nemesis Bird

  3. Sam NA says:

    Beautiful shots and nice write up Tim , thanks for sharing.

  4. Kerri says:

    FANTASTIC post – Awesome images!

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