First, the Big one.
On the way up my back steps after dark, I often see it cradled between tall pines and rooftops. I like looking at it over flat, farmed fields. I think about all the people who might be looking at it right now and about the ones who could be but aren’t. I almost always imagine myself staring up at it over Osgood Pond, and then down at its perfect watery reflection on clear, still nights.
Second, the American one.
I think I saw my first on Oak Creek in Arizona. On last fall’s trip to Oregon, seeing one was a goal (Vermont is a dipper-free state). American dippers can be spotted perpetually bobbing as they wade shallow—then they dive, feeding on insects. It’s a swimming bird that doesn’t look like a swimming bird. This may be part of my fascination.
In Oregon I got my fill of dippers—aka water ouzels—first along the beautiful Metolius River as I fished, then on the Umpqua as I watched Tim tackle the serious wading. I sat on couched ledges with book and binoculars, making sure Tim got up, fly rod in hand, if he fell, and was treated to hours of dipper-watching as they splashed on a ledge between us. I never got bored. And I didn’t read much.