I was working at my kitchen table yesterday morning, reading some of what I have written about clouds over the past year, red pencil in hand. It was shortly before 8 o'clock. I noticed the light outside changing and stepped barefoot onto my back deck to take a good look at the sky (above). At this hour, with the near-solistice sun so low and muted, it was difficult to tell blue sky from gray cloud, white cloud from white sky. I couldn't discern what was in front of or behind what, what was solid what was space. There are maps like this where the shading along the borders between land and water are supposed to suggest three dimensionality, but somehow do the opposite so that Puget Sound or the Chesapeake Bay look like peninsulas.
While I was out trying to make sense of what I was seeing, I heard what I thought was a Varied Thrush. It is a bird I first heard in California's redwood forests, before dawn, while I was searching for Marbled Murrelets. The thrush's song intrigued me; it sounded like a flying sauce taking off. It was buzzy, wobbly, and not melodic--so unlike the Wood Thrush that sung its graceful and liquid song in the Virginia woods behind my house. I have heard Varied Thrushes in late winter in our neighborhood in Olympia, though I have never laid my eyes one.
This morning, however, the bird seemed to be calling from my back yard. I ran on tiptoes inside to get my binoculars and, after a few buzzy calls, I saw a robin-sized bird in the top branches of the bare maple tree, it's golden breast catching the first light of the day. I would like to tell you it sang for me, but it didn't. It flew off--a dark silhouette against the eastern sky.
I do not have the kind of camera that can capture a decent photograph of a bird unless it is sitting absolutely still and no more than four feet in front of me. But the Internet is full of wonderful, high-quality photographs of birds. This one (below) looks most like my Varied Thrush.
|Photo taken in Colville National Forest (copyright Lori Aull). Used with permission. Click here to see more of her work.|