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The dipper is a robin-sized member of the wren family. It is our only aquatic songbird. The dipper is non-migratory resident, and generally defends a stream-side territory approximately a mile long. It feeds underwater on insect larvae and fish eggs, even at temperatures down to minus 40C. It nests on stream banks, behind waterfalls or under bridges. A closely related British species is called the water ouzel.

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“American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus

Fairly common along the larger, rapid mountain streams. Told by sooty plumage, short cocked tail, white eyelids. Bobs up and down. Walks under water. Flight low and direct. Song long, melodious, with trills and repititions.”

- Robbins et al, Birds of North America

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It all started last Monday afternoon.

I was fishing out a cast in a long, rocky run, when a dipper tried to land on my Spey rod. It surprised me and I moved the rod away. I thought the dipper just mistook my rod for a tree branch.

I was back at the same run on Wednesday.

My cast was swinging round but I wasn’t watching. I was trying to wade past a big rock. I felt a fish-like thump and automatically moved my rod towards the bank. Turns out the dipper was back, and had tried to land on my rod again. It landed in the water under my rod tip and swam around a bit. It seemed completely unafraid and allowed me to stroke it’s back with my rod tip a couple of times, then flew away.

Twenty minutes later, further down the run, the dipper was back. This time it landed on my rod, about two feet above the cork handle. It looked at me and started to walk down the rod towards the handle. I noticed for the first time that, for a small bird, dippers have a pretty impressive beak. The dipper seemed to be eyeing my thumb, and as it was about to step onto the cork, I gave the rod a nervous twitch and the bird took off.

Ten minutes later, the dipper was back on my rod. It walked down the rod and onto the handle. This time I decided that I wasn’t going to move. I thought about trying to get my camera out of my pocket but didn’t want to spook the bird. I wondered if it wanted food, but didn’t have anything resembling dipper food. The dipper stopped about three inches from my hand. It looked a my hand, then at my face. It sat there for maybe ten seconds, sang a little dipper song and flew off upstream. The whole experience was magical and still puts a smile on my face when I think about it.

It’s not unusual for dippers to feed close to anglers. Perhaps our wading stirs up aquatic insects for them. In my bait fishing days, it was common for dippers to hang around waiting for discarded bits of ghost shrimp or roe. I can remember feeling concerned and/or guilty regarding the effects of boraxed roe on dipper health. However, in over forty years of sharing rivers with dippers, I’ve never seen or heard of a dipper landing on a fishing rod once, never mind repeatedly. Have you?


Poul
 

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dipper's

And this little bird hops along from one rock to another? Plenty of those in NL but I could never put a name to them, Thanks for the Info.
Never had one land on my rod though, I hade one land on my canoe and watch my movements for quite a while aswell as follow me for long periods long time.
 

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Poul - The Dipper Whisperer :smokin:

Now you need to relate your "Sex on the Beach" story from the Skeena :lildevl: (it has to do with some very friendly, very amorous beavers).
 

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Ahhh....gotta love the Dipper. Has to be my favorite bird on the river. Never had one land on the rod, but I have had them get remarkably close while chasing each other or splashing about in the river. Love their songs.
slim
 

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loco alto!
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Dippers are highly territorial, which might explain the bird's behavior in this case. It might have mistaken you for competition ... were you bobbing up and down like a funky chicken?
 

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If he was thinking about those beaver - he probably was :lildevl:
 
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