Saturday, January 30, 2016 Dipper flying underwater!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:17 am, sunset 5:05 pm for a total day length of 7 hours and 48 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 56 seconds longer.

Sunshine and spectacular starry skies for the past two days! What a difference that makes after the dreary monotony of rain and gray skies!

Temps a little cooler today, but still unseasonably warm with a low of 28 and a high of 36ยบ with a brisk north wind. Snow/rain showers in the forecast starting tomorrow for the next week as another huge low moves in from the Bering Sea.

I hiked out to Tonsina Point in the Seward Alaska State Parks this weekend and saw something I have never seen before. A DIPPER stood in the middle of Tonsina Creek on a shallow gravel bar, dipping as usual. Then it jumped off into the deeper water and chased a small fish, likely a salmon fry. Both pink and chum salmon spawn here in the late summer.

I know Dippers often dive underwater in their amazing waterproof armor, but I thought they were just walking along or flowing with the current. But no, the water was so clear I could see the Dipper’s wings as it flew underwater like an Alcid. Flick, flick, flick, the wings propelled the Dipper in a tight pursuit of that fast little fish. 

Up popped the Dipper with the struggling fish in its bill. As the little gray fisher bobbed and paddled against the current with its skinny, web-free feet, down the hatch it went. Then off again, flying to get another fish. It was so cool to watch!

Another Dipper came barreling down the creek and they both ricocheted away, disrupting yet a third Dipper downstream. Dippers do not like to share, except when they are parenting.

All in all, it was a very exciting peek into the life of this phenomenal songbird that flies underwater.

My video was terrible, but search for “dipper swimming underwater” and you’ll find some good ones. Check out this excellent video of a dipper diving in slow-motion and narrative by Bob Armstrong: And more Dipper videos on his website at

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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