In 2015, I began a quest to document the life of North America’s only aquatic songbird - the American dipper. I did it in my home watershed, the Platte River Basin, in its upper reaches in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. Now four years later, because time never stops and stories are never really finished as much as they are taken away from you, here’s an essay with a portfolio of images, along with a short documentary film produced by my colleague Mariah Lundgren with Platte Basin Timelapse - PBT for short.
PBT was created in 2011. It is dedicated to telling the stories of a watershed in motion, and to do so takes a village. One small part of my effort is a series of natural history-based stories that will roll out over this next year - pieces I have been chipping away at for years. Trumpeter swans in the Nebraska Sandhills are next, then bighorn sheep in the Wildcat Hills, and then the role of beaver as hubs of biodiversity along the Platte River, and so on.
These indelible creatures are the wildlife among us in a surprisingly rich watershed in the heart of the Great Plains. They stand as symbols for ecosystem health, they are survivors whose stories help shine a light on conservation challenges past, present and future, and they deserve to exist in this landscape just like we do, beyond any utilitarian purpose, for their intrinsic beauty and for their own sake.
I hope you enjoy the dippers at least half as much as I have getting to know them. It has been a privilege to glimpse below the surface into their remarkable watery world. They are a trout with feathers...
Click the links below to read the full story and watch the short documentary film