Sunday, 15 April 2018

American Dipper (Cincle d'Amérique) at Goldstream Provincial Park, Langford, BC

06 April 2018

     Dippers, it seems to me, are among the most enigmatic of the world's birds. They live in wild, rugged places with rapidly flowing streams, in regions often the least modified by humans. And they are endearing. Their name is derived from their habit of bouncing up and down as though on a spring - "dipping." They plunge into icy rapids with abandon, emerging with caddis fly larva which they pound into submission, ridding the larva of its protective shield of pebbles, to gulp down their prize. Their whole lifestyle is wedded to water and it is only in their mountain haunts that we find them going about their lives.
     There are but five species of dipper in the world, and I consider myself fortunate indeed to have enjoyed four of them. The fifth, the Rufous-throated Dipper (Cinclus schulzi) of the remote, almost inaccessible regions of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia will probably remain a mere vision in my mind.
     On a recent trip to Vancouver Island off Canada's west coast one of our targets was American Dipper (C. mexicanus) and we were able to locate it in Goldstream Provincial Park.



     Miriam and I have had several previous encounters with this species, but for Franc, Carol, Jim, Francine and Judy, our fellow birders, it was a first. Fittingly, it seemed, the first four individuals mentioned above saw their first dipper ever last year, White-throated Dipper (C. cinclus), in Slovenia when we also travelled together. With two species under their belt they have already seen 40% of the world's dippers!
     Dippers use their nictitating membranes frequently to protect their eyes from hazards in the water and Miriam was able to capture this photograph of a bird drawing the membrane across its eye while on a log.


     There were at least two individuals and possibly three in the area and they put on a show for us for at least ten minutes.





     It gave us ample opportunity to really enjoy them and observe many facets of their unique lifestyle.





    A complete report of our trip will be posted in the next few days.

42 comments:

  1. Beautiful series of images of this lovely Dipper .. Happy Sunday

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  2. Beautiful images, David! The Dipper is very pretty. We have one here too called Fossekall :)

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  3. Dear David,
    it must feel as a reward when you go out for a specific species and ... you see it.
    Must be real fun also to see it dipping. Lovely pictures.

    Thank you for your kind remarks on my blog. I certainly will notify you when I go for a marathon!

    Best regards, Corrie

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  4. The sight of a Dipper is always thrilling David, and their behaviour is a delight to behold. I well remember how much difficulty we had in finding one for you in Scotland when you visited! At least we found one (in England!) in the end - even if it was distant.

    Looking forward to you Vancouver Island report.

    Love to you both - - - Richard

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  5. Hi David,
    He's as pretty as his French cousin! It's a nice meeting, bravo.

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  6. Nice photos, especially the one of the bird with its nictitating membrane closed. That must be a fairly rare sight to capture.

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  7. I've spent many hours watching the antics of our English version as I used to lead walking groups in the upland regions of England and Wales. It seemed we always encountered one as long as there was nobody in the party who particularly wanted to see one - then they could be maddeningly elusive!

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  8. I remember watching dippers when we were young and hiking in the woods ... before we even knew there was such a thing as 'birding' or 'bird-watching'. But thinking how neat they were. Bill had learned the names of some of the birds like this one from his grandfather and dad, but I grew up in a family whose only outdoor pursuit was gardening.

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  9. Hi Both,
    Dipper are always a delight to watch, I have spent many happy hours whilst Salmon fishing in Scotland watching these birds disappearing into fast flowing water and eventually reappearing many metres down stream.
    Some wonderful images Miriam.
    All the best, John

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  10. Hello, great series of Dipper photos. I do not see them in Maryland, mostly out west. Happy Birding, enjoy your day!

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  11. How absolutely delightful. And their 'home' is beautiful too.
    So many birds fall into the 'feathered enchantment' category for me. Birds I have seen, and birds I will probably never see.

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  12. Hari OM
    Wonderful! There is a good population of C Cinclus here in Scotland - but it is a bird which has yet eluded me! YAM xx

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  13. Lovely bird and I like their environment. Pretty!

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    1. Should be quite common where you live, Michelle.

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  14. A beautiful dipper, I did not know him, although I knew there are a few species in the world. It is true that in my country is C. schultzi, I never saw him because I did not walk in the region where he lives, although you should not lose hope, someday you can make a trip to that area, several of my partners have photographed him in reserves different natures, I suppose that by consulting you can know the places it frequent.I am waiting for the trip's photos

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  15. They look a larger bird and colour of the wood blending into their surroundings, but then that's what birds and animals do, well most of them from what I have seen.

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  16. Lovely to see your Dipper photos. I do enjoy seeing them. Seems I see them a few times a year here. I never looked up what type they are. But they are fun to watch. Your photos show their beauty.

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  17. Så trevligt att få en lektion av en fågelkunnig person om den lilla strömstaren. Vi har en variant här också och i vintras när jag fotograferade strömmande vatten fick jag en bild på den märkliga fågeln. Bland is och vatten dök den om och om igen i det iskalla vattnet.

    En häftig upplevelse!

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    1. Good morning Gunilla: The European Dipper is a little more colourful than our Dipper, but they have similar lifestyles and are both delightful.

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  18. Hi David.

    Beautiful bird is this.
    Nice head photo you have now.

    Groettie from Patricia.

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  19. Hi David,
    As you know a dipper (Cinclus cinclus cinclus)has visited the Netherlands from december until april. A completely different species compared with the one you have been looking for. OK, behaviour is the same but their outfit is quite different. Interesting to get to know that there are different kinds of dippers.
    Greetings, Kees

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  20. Nice shots of the dipper! Wonderful to catch the dipper enjoying the water!

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  21. Great photos, they are lovely to watch, there's a place near us we go to every year just to see the Dippers!

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    1. If we had Dippers locally I am sure I would spend many happy hours watching them.

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  22. Dippers are fascinating birds. Ours is of course the white-throated dipper. I just read it is Norway's national bird and in Estonian it's called 'vesipapp' (vesi=water, papp=priest) because of its colours. :)
    I hope you can soon enjoy pleasant spring temperatures. Spring comes always, but what saddens me is that it has become so short. First months and months of winter, then some days of spring, and then it's all over... :D
    Happy birding!

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    1. You are right, Sara. Spring seems to be over almost before it begins. Right now we have snow again here and after a weekend of freezing rain the conditions look quite awful.

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  23. These birds look very well fed. :-)

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    1. And they don't even need a review to tell them where to eat!

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  24. Wonderful to see and read, nicely your info there David.
    Greetings Tinie

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  25. Well, I had never heard of dippers! This is one reason why I love blogging! And it looks as though you are on the road and enjoying it all! I look forward to more postcards from the road!

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  26. Hi David - how lovely to see your photos - I have yet to get to Goldstream Park ... sometime in the reasonable near future ...and so I'll be looking forward to your report back ... gorgeous photos by you and Miriam ... so glad you had a good time - cheers Hilary

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  27. Excelente reportaje sobre este mirlo acuático, muy parecido al europeo pero sin el babero blanco. Las fotos de Miriam como siempre son una auténtica maravilla, mi más sincera enhorabuena para los dos. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

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  28. I love your Dipper, beautiful David.

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  29. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photos of the Dipper.
    You photographed them perfectly.
    Best regards, Irma

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  30. Bello artículo y guapas fotos. Un cordial saludo.

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  31. How wonderful that you had such a great viewing of the American Dipper. I'm so glad Miriam got a photo of the bird's eye membrane. That is awesome.

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  32. I'm not likely to come upon a dipper, so happy to see the pics. The third picture down, with the eye membrane showing, is perfection. Enjoyed this post very much.

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  33. i am not familiar with this bird but it looks much like my catbird!! nice captures of the bird!!

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  34. Wonderful photos of the dipper. Your bird photos are totally amazing and great to see. I love your banner photo, the bird's colour is stunning.

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  35. So lovely to see this series of photographs, thank you.
    I also agree with Bill, your banner photograph is stunning!

    All the best Jan

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  36. Nice shots there David. To all intents and purposes it's our European Dipper. I'll bet it even has a very similar flight call as it flies inches above the water and disappears out of sight around a bend in the stream.

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  37. Beautiful bird and great photos. I was so happy when I saw The white-throated dipper this spring for the first time in my life.

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