In November 2015 I spent two weeks in Milan, Italy working in a customer integration lab. When I found myself with two days off I did what I’m certain anyone else would do. I searched online to find an inn high up in the Alps near a fast moving mountain stream. I was going to seek out the White-throated Dipper! Cogne, Italy is about one mile up into the Alps and is surrounded by mountain peaks. The late autumn sunlight would be short-lived. Arriving too late on Saturday I would have only three hours of sunshine on Sunday in which to find and photograph my Dippers. That morning I ate a quick breakfast, grabbed my gear and hiked over to the river. And I found them, right away, those little European water ouzels, dipping, diving and singing their beautiful song!
But there were problems. The light was extremely harsh, shadows were dark and sunlight was bright. The White-throated Dipper has that very challenging white throat against dark chestnut and steel-grey. Also I didn’t have my big lens so could not get close. With time at a premium I couldn’t decide between sitting still and waiting or walking along the river. So I did a bit of both. My Dipper opportunities were sparse and short-lived and I never did find the sweet spot with exposure or distance.
Finally the sun lowered and my time was up. Leaving the mountain I took a hairpin turn too sharp and scratched up the side of my rental car against a guard rail. Fortunately, when I returned my car Avis was happy to take care of that for the flat fee of $450, sigh. When I arrived back home to the US I was disappointed with my images and finally called it a loss. Recently, however, I searched through them more carefully and found one image that I decided was actually okay. So here it is, tallying the guard rail incident, the cost of the hotel, gas and food this is my $700 photo of a White-throated Dipper:
Is the image worth that much? Of course not. But I will forever cherish the memories of my moment in Cogne spending time with my little ouzel friends. And if I ever get out that way again, I know exactly where to find the White-throated Dipper.
More images of the White-throated Dipper and Cogne: