On the rocks


On the surface of it, on the rocks, has to be a dumb theme for a posting.

On the rocks: The phrase has its origin in coastal ship wrecks. From there it took on the metaphorical meaning of a state of ruin, disrepair, or destitution. (One wonders about the message when used to describe the adding of ice, the rocks, to whisky.)

What might the phrase have to do with local nature? Metaphors aside, after watching wildlife for years, one comes to realize that some animals regularly hang out around rocks, and others avoid them. This realization was prompted by the last two, recent, pictures. Other pictures shown are are somewhat older. 

Most megafauna avoid rocks. The exception being the mountain goat, and to a lesser extent, the bighorn sheep. The appeal is the cliff-sustaining ability of rock, where the sure-footed mountain goat can avoid predators such as the cougar. Here a mountain goat stands on a ledge only wide enough to place one foot in front of another (2014 Oct. 2).

Rocks in water serve as a convenient place for some semi-aquatic mammals to snack — as this beaver is doing (2012 Apr. 28).

Similarly, an otter will choose rocks for a feast (2015 Aug. 8).

A few birds that hunt fish by waiting and watching choose rocks poking out of the lake as a perch. Here are two young herons (2015 July 18).

A kingfisher usually prefers a higher lookout, but sometimes watches from rocks (2009 Aug. 17).

Prompting these thoughts was a dipper, a bird that frequently watches the waters from a rock.

What about this muskrat sitting on a rock? Neither hunting nor eating, it might be lollygagging.

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5 Responses to On the rocks

  1. Fr. Jim says:

    I always enjoy your groups of pictures gathered around a theme. Once again, “Thank you!”

  2. Karen Pidcock says:

    Love these rock critters, and that you are patiently awaiting there [watching] perches and activities with your camera! Thanks!!

  3. Ken Anderson says:

    I must agree Alistair, why would someone think to put whisky and ice in the same glass
    I am sure that none of the subjects in your pictures would.

  4. Marie says:

    It’s a veritable Rock Festival! Sorry, couldn’t resist. 😉

  5. This post reminds me of a corny joke/riddle I once made up:

    Q. In what way do saxicolous lichens resemble a typical modern marriage?

    A: They’re both on the rocks.

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