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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note of any observations you have made of the world around you.  Insects, weather, fish, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
Seattle. February 19, 2013.

Gonna be a  v e r y  s l o w  day.

Had you been with me on last week's bird count you'd have heard me mutter those words as we began our trek at the Old School for Wayward Girls. There was no sound except for the airplanes overhead. No house finches or house sparrows squabbled at the feeders in the yards across the alley where we parked. No gulls or crows or robins or even starlings pranced across the upper meadow where the school ruled before all three ugly brick stories were torn down a couple decades ago.

There were no wrens or chickadees or kinglets muttering among themselves in the ivy strangled trees beside the path leading down to the beach from where the school custodian's cottage once stood. Old newspaper reports suggest that the school custodian was not a good man. The day's silence was only a reminder of how awful this place must once have been.

There were no butterbutts or waxwings or siskins hanging out in the last of the old Garry Oaks and Madronas that cling to the steep slope above the beach. Nor was there any sign of the mixed flock of sparrows that usually dives into the newly restored shoreline thickets when I approach.  

No eagle sat in the big cottonwood overlooking the lake. No common goldeneyes played in the shallows, and they are the most common of the winter ducks to grace this stretch of shoreline.

There was only one little brown bird standing on a half submerged rock maybe five feet off the concrete stairs leading down to the lake. Just one little brown bird.

And then you would have heard me say, out loud:

I know exactly who you are, and you're not supposed to be here.

Cinclus mexicanus. American Dipper. North America's only aquatic songbird, a bird I often see up in the mountains, bobbing up and down on the rocks in fast moving streams, diving under the currents to catch the little creatures that live in fast moving streams up in the mountains.

Many years ago a pair of dippers lived on the east side of the Forest peninsula at the terminus of a tiny manmade waterfall below the salmon hatchery. The salmon hatchery has been empty for a decade or more now; the waterfall died with it. The dippers chose to move on.

Until last week, when this one bobbed and swam and dove and came up with tiny fish once, twice, three times, working its way south along a gentle stretch of lake shore, then disappearing under the pier that marks the edge of public and private land.

February 11, 2013. American Dipper at the Old School for Wayward Girls.American Dipper. Feb 11, 2013. Seattle. The Old School for Wayward Girls.
I've returned more than once to search the rocks, the snags, the thickets at the beach below the Old School for Wayward Girls, but this dipper, too, has moved on.


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