After a nice run of fair weather to advance the spring we awoke one day last week in a fog. Without highlights and shadows to sharpen images and locate tiny birds in tall trees my intended camera quests were nullified, but an excursion around Halibut Point brought serendipitous alternatives.
The mood seemed to imply consolidation more than progress, a maintenance day. The gulls seemed to be as limited in their aerial reconnaissance as I was in photographing warblers. We all refocused our plans to the advantages of the moment.
The headlands were eerily quiet, a far cry from yesterday's riot of birdsong. The pulse of the morning was as diffuse as the light. As long as I kept my mind off missing out on flashier ephemeral subjects, the visual world was pleasantly soothing. Some of the regulars just went back to bed.
It was so quiet that I wondered if the songbird migration had moved on. I shifted periodically between states of reverie and of pondering for logical explanations. Was the silence a result of inactivity brought on by diminished light, or had the gloom deflated the songsters' emotional spark? A mourning dove's plaintive notes keynoted the atmosphere.
I came to realize that there actually was bird sound around me, just not bird song. Messages on the order of "I'm over here, where are you?" resonated here and there. But a lyrical quality was missing along with the sunshine.
A towhee tried to get things going with repetitions of "bang, bang, ch-ch-ch" from a lofty perch. I interpreted it as a wistful gambit on his part, akin to "How about if I lay down the first song?"
A voice responded in the grayness with a spirited mimicry of various other birds currently silenced by the day. A catbird. A new hero. Perhaps in the shame of its personal meow voice it has developed a supplemental repertoire of musical 'covers' from avian neighbors, phrases it reiterates somewhat tediously on your average day, but most enchantingly in the flatness of the fog.
There was the catbird silhouetted in full throat, newsy and vaguely melodious like the town crier, or like a tipsy fellow joyous in imagined after-hours company. I thank you, friend, for the smile you bring forth pro bono. If I can't repay you directly I can at least listen more fully.
It's seeing that whetted my expectations for the day and listening that gave sight.