Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Joy of Water

Lake Annette is four miles south of Interstate 90 and a few of miles west of Snoqualmie Pass.

My daughter inspired my wife and I to hike up and spend Tuesday night at the lake. Hikers and their best friends were swimming joyfully in the cool, clear water when we arrived.

An American Dipper was also splashing its way along the lake shore. The dipper is the dark robin-shaped bird, barely visible, in the center of the photo. True to their name, they dip under the water looking for insects. Dippers constantly bob up and down even when just standing next to the water. It's like the dipping movement is so ingrained, they cannot stop.

It was surprising to find a dipper at the lake, as they usually feed in fast flowing streams. A note at the trailhead mentioned that most of the small streams along the way to the lake were dry.  In June, when my friend Marcus and I stopped just below the trailhead to look for dippers in the Snoqualmie River, it was lower than normal even then. We did not see any dippers

The water level at the lake was so low that the exiting stream bed was dry.

All About Birds mentions that dippers are adapted to feeding in cold running water. They have thicker than normal feathers so they can spend the winter feeding even in the cold. Maybe in the current heat the dipper moved up to the lake looking for cooler water. In any case, the dipper's constant splashing along the water's edge looked just as joyful as the humans and their dogs.

Thursday, on Union Bay, two ducks were involved in a short disagreement about water rights.

This female gadwall won the right to a joyful bath. 

The gadwall's method of submerging her head and throwing water down her back seemed similar to the dipper in Lake Annette. The streams around Union Bay almost certainly had dippers in the past. There is a single sighting recorded in eBird of a dipper seen in the Arboretum in 2008. Since dippers spend so much time in the water, they are most likely rather sensitive to pollutants like herbicides, insecticides and motor oil. Imagine the joy if we could keep our local streams clean enough to share them with dippers.

After enjoying her bath the gadwall dried her wings.

Refreshed, she quietly paddles her way back to her young ducklings.

They immediately snuggle close. 

Whether the ducklings were looking for safety or shade I am not sure. Their little pile did remind me that the Husky football season is about to begin. You might expect for me to be a Ducks fan, but I am a loyal UW graduate.

Friday morning the ducklings were south of Foster Island and cleaning themselves after enjoying their own bath.

Once the cleaning was complete, they waddled back to their mother.

They enjoy the water, but being close to mom rates even higher.

Local officials are asking us to reduce our water consumption by ten percent. To read the Seattle Times story, Click Here. By conserving our low supply of water we may be able to avoid surcharges in the near future, while also helping salmon and local fish that need water to live and reproduce.

We spotted this fish while visiting Lake Annette. I honestly do not know if the low levels of water led to its demise, but the visual imagine has helped me to take shorter showers. I hope you are similarly inspired!

Have a great day on Union Bay...where ducklings play in the bay and where salmon (and hopefully in future dippers) search for cool, clean streams.


Bonus Photos:

A toad my daughter spotted on the way to Lake Annette.

My best guess is, they are Boreal Toads.


  1. Very refreshing!

  2. My family just returned from a vacation where we hiked in the Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. There were signs posted all along the trail "No Swimming or Wading" to keep people out of the stream. I knew the days were over that you could get a cool drink from the stream, but apparently now you cannot even soak your tired feet. Thanks for the striking photo of one of the reasons why we need to conserve water. from Leah in Centralia

  3. I tried to do a bit of research on why swimming is prohibited in the BCC. I am not positive, but I suspect the canyon is in the Salt Lake City watershed. If so, they are actually more easy going than Seattle Public Utilities which only allows limited access to our Cedar River watershed via SPU tours. Regardless, you are right about our needing to conserve water. I hope you had a wonderful trip!