Water Ouzel from the Instagram account of Keepemwet Science Ambassador  John McMillan.

Water Ouzel from the Instagram account of Keepemwet Science Ambassador John McMillan.

Being on rivers is not always about the fish, nor the river. Just like a meal is not always about the main course, sometimes its about the salad or the desert. In this case, it was about an #americandipper, or the #waterouzel as I prefer to call them. It seems a day on the river never passes without seeing one of these little critters. They live what appears to be a very consistent life. Incessantly bobbing in a way that implies each movement is absolutely fundamental to its existence; flitting from boulder to boulder; excitedly chasing one another and splashing down into the shallows to search for insects and fish. This little fellow found himself quite the gem, a fresh #cohosalmon egg, which he relishes for the briefest of moments before it is swallowed. While it is not uncommon to see, this little bird was likely experiencing his/her first salmon egg -- ever. This photo was taken in 2011, the first year we relocated adult coho salmon into tributaries above the former #Elwhadam. Perhaps it was lucky enough to find a small trout egg in previous years, but certainly this was its first taste of true ocean-running goodness. That is why I could not help but think it was relishing the moment, maybe even showing it off to me -- before gulping it down. Like Gollum with the ring. My precious. Fortunately for this bird, there were lots of other "rings" in the river, but not hoards of orcs chasing it. And such is the new life for these birds as the salmon have started to recolonize their old haunts. Formerly cold and relatively sterile streams that supported one to three dippers now support two to four times as many, seasonally at least when the salmon are running. Their offspring carry the isotopes of those marine derived nutrients. A signature of dam removal, a bit of ocean in a bird that will never see the ocean. #science #biology #ecology #rivers#damremoval #pnwonderland#explorewashingtonstate #fish #salmon#steelhead #trout #nutrients#salmonrecovery #pnw #fishing #flyfishing#birds