More on the dippers of Mammoth creek

Observers: Donna & Bob Willey
Date: 06/09/2007
Time: 08:10 PM -0400

This a.m. as I lay concealed at the dipper nest I watched as the male with a nice fat larval worm approached the nest. He came by a circuitous route and I already was fairly certain that the female was roosting on her newly laid eggs within. Sure enough he landed at the nest site holding his worm and the female's head emerged from within. If I didn't know better I would have assumed that the scene unfolding before me was a parent feeding its' young. However, I did know better and I watched entranced as the female assumed all the characteristics of a baby bird begging for its' meal from dipper parent. I watched the happy dipper mates awhile longer and then continued upstream. Was it just 8-10 days ago that this same duo had fledged their 3 young dipper chicks... and now, they were beginning their second brood of the season within... I wondered to myself how the 3 young dipper fledglings were doing. I hadn't seen them since last week; were they alive, where were they if alive, how were they faring... all these questions had been swirling through my thoughts since I saw them last. As I continued upstream to check on 2 other nest sites that I have been watching, I came to a break in the dense foliage and ground cover that keeps fishermen away from this part of Mammoth creek and to my utter astonishment, I found myself looking at the 3 dipper fledglings. Time seemed to stand still for all of us as we regarded one another... the young chicks seemed as astonished to see me as I was to see them. I unfortunately had just replaced my camera in its bag and by the time I had retrieved it they had disappeared under the fast flowing currents of the creek. The 3 dipper chicks have grown and their feathers have darkened and filled out. They are not yet quite as big as their parents, but it won't be long and they will be. Food is plentiful, and the stream runs pure and clear from mountain snow melt. As the second dipper brood progresses I will post more. I wonder how many chicks they will have this time ...