This past month has been exceptionally busy for me, so I apologize for not sharing any images and stories in a while! I recently returned from a trip to the Southwest with my girlfriend Aubrey, where we explored some slot canyons, followed by my giving two presentations at the highly successful Sedona Fotofest. On our first day we took it easy and explored Kanarra Creek, just outside Zion National Park in Utah. What once was a quiet canyon has now become a popular summer destinations for locals. However, past the first few obstacles the crowds thinned out and it was even quiet enough that a pair of American Dippers decided to nest behind a beautiful waterfall in one of the narrow sections of the canyon.

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American Dipper in Zion National Park, Waterfall, Southwest

Dipper Falls : Prints Available
American Dipper in Kanarra Creek near Zion.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure (bird): iso 1600, f/8, 1/30th
Exposure (habitat): iso 200, f/11, 0.5 sec
Notes: I blended 3 exposures for this image: one for the bird, and two for the canyon at different focus settings. Unfortunately I didn't check the focus on the wall on the right, but since it is only used for framing I don't think it detracts much.

The American Dipper is America’s only aquatic songbird, and they fullfill their niche with style. Allegedly John Muir’s favorite bird, these little songbirds will swim through swift currents, dive into little ponds, and cling to slippery surfaces with ease. They often build their nests beside or behind waterfalls, as the pair that I found in Kanarra Creek had done – can you imagine a more beautiful place to live? I set up my camera and quietly waited for the birds to return to the nest with food for their young. Every 5 minutes or so they would come by, land at the top of the falls, and cautiously hop down and disappear behind the curtain of water. The Dippers are a special part of the canyon experience in Zion; anyone who has visited the park has probably seen and heard them zipping up and down the canyons. That might be my favorite part of hiking in Zion! A few years ago on my first visit to Zion I also captured an image of an exceptionally cooperative Dipper in the Narrows, which I’ve decided to share with you again. You can also find several more images of these inspiring little birds on my website here: American Dippers.

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American Dipper in the Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah, dipping in the narrows, Cinclus mexicanus

Dipping in the Narrows : Prints Available
American Dipper in Zion’s Narrows.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, handheld
Exposure: iso 400, f/4, 1/100th

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