Friday, June 13, 2014

Symphony of the Noyo

Happiness is a butterfly, 
which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

We all have those days when things don't go as planned.  Sometimes being open to possibilities or just being present or willing to embrace a moment is all that it takes to transform a derailed to-do list into a moment of bliss and happiness.

This week, I have ended up spending a good part of my days on our deck over the Noyo River priming boards for our shed remodel.  This wasn't on my extensive to-do list and I've had a moment or two of panic about the things that I wasn't getting to.  As I rolled primer onto the plywood and the sun shone on my back, the tension in my neck and shoulders started to ease as I tuned into the Symphony of the Noyo.

Over the years, the slow pace of kayaking on the quiet waters of the Noyo has expanded my curiosity about the creatures and plants that I see everyday.  This curiosity has blossomed into a fascination and love of birds.  Many birders love the challenge of identification and seeing many species.  My fascination is more about their behaviors and natural adaptations.  Part of their behavior that I enjoy is their songs of spring.  (Birds sing in the spring to attract a mate and/or to defend their territory.)

As I paint, I tune into the Symphony of the Noyo - the birds are painting the air with their colorful songs.  Here are some of the star performers - 
The swainson's thrush carries the main melody.  His spiraling song lifts ones' spirits.  

Song Sparrows chime in with their song.

The wilson's warbler contributes his "lazer tag" chorus.

The black-headed grosbeak stars.  His chortling adds some pizzaz to the movement.  

A western wood peewee adds dissonance with his off key - Rrreeeeeks!  

The osprey flies overhead.  When the female sees him, her pleading adds drama to the movement.

Chestnut backed Chickadees - add the "dee, dee, dee's.".

The rattling of the belted kingfisher adds "cha-cha-cha-cha-cha's

The occasional quoak, quoak, quoak of the great blue heron flying up river inspires commotion and percussion in the heron rookery.

The common ravens have a nest over the river and are like the peanut gallery. 
The ravens don't contribute much to the symphony's movement but are a vocal presence.

And a mute swan silently glides across the water - drifting to the Symphony of the Noyo.

Some day I hope to piece together a sound recording of the birds of the Noyo.  Until then, come enjoy the Symphony of the Noyo with me on the water.
Cate guiding Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Sunset Bird Paddle on the Noyo River


  1. Excellent essay, Cate! I share your fascination with the behavior and adaptability of birds, and "ear-birding" is for me a way to learn even more about them. Recent research indicates the songs and calls of many species are more complex, and more meaningful, than had previously been thought; has some fascinating insights.

    Recording the Noyo "dawn chorus" would be a fun project. I have a nifty little digital audio recorder that I could loan you if you want.