Gaining a ‘Bird-Watcher’s-Eye View’ of the World – Pub’d on China Daily

China Daily has published my most recent column titled Gaining a ‘Bird-Watcher’s-Eye View’ of the World. Here’s an excerpt:

When my husband and I spotted a dusky brown bird bobbing on a rock in a stream not far from the family home in rural Zhejiang, a feeling of excitement swept through me.

“That’s a dipper, I’m certain of it!” I whispered in his ear, prompting him to reach for the camera draped over his shoulder and snap a photo.

The last time I laid eyes on such a bird was in Yosemite National Park, while trudging up switchbacks that rose 1,000 feet from the valley floor to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. There, I encountered a bird perched on a rock near the cascading waters, and my hunch was later confirmed in the pages of the North American bird guide in my backpack: I had seen an American dipper.

The sweat slathered across my brow as well as sore feet and legs seemed a worthy trade-off for a glimpse of the only aquatic songbird in North America and one capable of “flying” underwater, as a nature documentary on TV had revealed.

It didn’t count as a rare sighting, since the dipper isn’t endangered. Still, the majesty of one of America’s most picturesque national parks framed the moment, leading me to cherish this bird — one not native to the Cleveland, Ohio, region where I grew up — all the more.

Never did I expect that, instead of spending hours on a strenuous hike up the granite cliffs of Yosemite, I only needed to venture on a short walk from my husband’s family home, tracing a mountain creek that cut through the valley.

You can read the full piece online, where you can also listen to an audio recording of me reading it. And as always, if you like it, share it!

Photo credit: By Robert tdc –[email protected]/4427599266/, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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