Winged Painters

I’m watching for the birds, but must be content today seeing only their bold markings claiming their favorite rocks for their return and painting the river with natural works of art. I know a dipper left some of these lines. I’ve seen it faithfully re-marking them on other peaceful mornings, and noisily defending them when its companion lands on one it shouldn’t. But I can’t help but wonder what larger bird plans to keep the white-splashed flat stone to the right of center for its own?


About sherijkennedyriverside

Left brain, right brain, I can't decide. After many years of successful visual arts pursuits, I'm working on my other creative inclinations. For the past 8 years, writing has been my second full time job, and it's worth every sleepless night. Sheri J. Kennedy grew up mostly a city-girl coasthopping from Seattle to rural Pennsylvania, Miami and back to Seattle. She currently resides on the banks of the Snoqualmie River in the scenic Cascade Mountains. Her heart has found its home.
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6 Responses to Winged Painters

  1. bluebrightly says:

    Dippers, lucky you! I guess there are lots of possibilities for the bigger bird – something to wonder about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of my favorite things about getting to live at this spot – having dippers come by every day. After all these years I’m still not tired of watching them.
      I’m guessing the bigger birds are our Common Mergansers that frequent this section of the river, but I’ve only caught them perched on our beach’s rocks once this year, and not that section that’s marked. Other years they hung out with us often. I’m guessing since our next door neighbor’s home was torn down they’re liking the privacy of that section of beach instead of the chance sighting of people at ours. They’re much more wary and ‘shy’ than dippers. I can’t see the neighbor’s beach unless I’m at the water’s edge, so I haven’t confirmed my theory. I miss being able to watch the Mergansers resting from the house while I’m writing on the weekends. But I still see them fly by or paddle by often. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • bluebrightly says:

        Mergansers are great to watch, too. We can’t blame them for preferring places further from humans but things are always changing so maybe they’ll be back – OR something else will begin appearing regularly. 🙂 Dippers don’t seem to mind people very much, do they? The last ones we saw were up on near Mt. Baker – what fun to watch them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • As long as you don’t walk directly toward a dipper they’ll come very close without changing their behavior. As you likely know, since you’ve watched them, they tend to move in one direction when ‘fishing’. So it’s easy to approach the shoreline a little ahead of them and wait until they come nearly up to your feet.
          One of my most amazing dipper watching experiences was in Whatcom county as well. It was at Whatcom Falls park along one of the trails in the spring, and it was apparently mating and/or territory marking season. A large number were flying up and down river and getting into kerfuffles that seemed more like skirmishes than mating. But they were hugely noisy and very obviously tussling to claim territories (and perhaps mates). I’d never seen so many concentrated in an area.
          Ours definitely fly over their stretch and loudly chirp to defend their territory if another comes through, but I’ve only every seen one to two potential usurpers at a time, and they tend to pass along peacefully. If two, they appear to be an elder with their young, and when that happens the one defending usually has a juvenile with them, as well. Just saw that happen this past Saturday in a spat (or at least loud display to make sure the other didn’t even think about it!) over the rock perches and stretch of river in this photo and just beyond it to the right. It confirmed my suspicion that it’s the same individuals that I see daily working along our bit of river.


        • Oh, and yes, always changing from year to year. At least the Mergansers are still present. I was sad to see no Harlequins at all this year. We had them pretty frequently resting on our rocks and passing by in past years. I’m thinking the much drier climate in my area in the past couple years affected their success poorly in raising their young?
          I’m afraid we’ll lose our Hooded Merganser pairs too, since the little lake by the river where they could often be spotted in the winter has gone pretty much dry, even in rainy season. They were on the river in the snow sometimes too though, so maybe they’ll stay without the lake. We’ll see.
          On the upside, I saw the osprey a lot more this year. Glorious! Perhaps the diving ducks did too, and that’s why they were wary of resting on our beach during daylight?

          Liked by 1 person

      • bluebrightly says:

        That was a memorable experience you had with the dippers. I remember coming across one singing one early spring morning – what a song! I wouldn’t have guessed that your patch is such a favorite with them – it’s good to hear. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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