Woodpecker Watch

Sunday, November 13, 2016, afternoon

Continuing my afternoon bike ride traveling to the east side of the Fair Oaks Bridge. I approach a tall and long dead tree on the side of the path that I have passed by hundreds of time. The trunk is ghostly gray with a dozen dead branches laying at its feet. Why is this tree still standing?

Riding by the tree I hear knocking and stop to look. A family of three woodpeckers are lined up on the trunk drumming on the tree. The trunk from the ground to the uppermost remnant of the trunk is covered with scars from the woodpeckers.  At the very top of the tree are two more woodpeckers. They have created a nest out of the hollow at the top of highest branch. From now on, I will be on woodpecker watch passing this tree.

American River Parkway, tree, bike path, Jedediah Smith memorial trail, woodpecker
Look for two adults standing near the tree in the lower left of the photo to visualize the size of this tree
woodpeckers, tree, American River Parkway, jedediah Smith Memorial Trail
Two woodpeckers at work

 

 

 

Have You Ever Heard a Goose Whisper?

November 22, 2016 Tuesday, 645 am 42 degrees

American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, mist, morning, chilly, The sky is awash with shades of pink fading in the sky. As the pink turns slowly gray, I see the mist hovering over the water as if this is Brigadoon hiding its secrets. The southern sky is woven with pale stripes as the sun rises. The mist gently moves along the river towards the bridge. The movement so gentle it reminds me of fog blowing across a stage in a theater in unseen currents of air.

I wear gloves. My hands still feel like ice. The boat launch ramp is empty. A group of four ducks are just now coming out to swim. A single seagull flies west over the bridge. The little bird that used to greet me every morning has returned to sit at the top of the bridge frame and sing its song, “Ti Too! Ti Too!” Geese fly under the bridge, honking, honking loudly, landed on the west side of the bridge in their traditional water skiing style.

Alas, two empty beer cans sit on the bridge. Runners arrive wearing hats, jackets and gloves. The bridge rails are covered with dew. The deck is moist enough to reveal footsteps. An intact spider web is suspended between two bridge rails. Six dead salmon float next to the riverbank to become food for hungry gulls, as Canada Geese and turkey vultures monitor the river.

Canada Goose, Geese, boat launch ramp, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, American River Parkway
Whispering, “honk, honk”
spider web, American River, Fair Oaks bridge, spider
Spider waits displaying its outstanding geometric skills
Egret
Searching for breakfast
"Ti Too! Ti Too!"
“Ti Too! Ti Too!”

 

I walk to the boat launch ramp and stand alongside two Canada Geese pondering what they will do today. One turns around and spies the river. The other stands and whispers, “Honk, honk” to me over and over again. What a treat it would be to know geese language. The best I can do is say good morning in “people speak.” The river’s resident Egret is sitting on the north shore in its usual spot.

A single seagull flies over my head. Its circular flight path is 100 yards long, over and over again. The gull is far too high above me to hear the flap of its wings. Yet I do hear it whistle as it circles above me six times. The two Canada Geese decide to fly over the river and vanish into the mist. Ducks appear, land in the water and quickly liftoff once again to fly away to another part of the river corridor.

I leave the boat ramp and walk back over the bridge, always giving the river a last glance for the day to hold it in my memory. Arriving at my car at 810 am, the morning temperature has only warmed to 49 degrees.

Dunk, Splash, Crow!

Saturday, November 26, 2016, 715 am 48 degrees

chickens-lostOn my walk to the bridge, I see two chickens wandering the street looking lost. I have seen this pair before and wonder if they are looking for their lost chicks, hiding somewhere in the shrubs along the street.

Two seagulls soar over the bridge as I approach. I spy the Egret on the west side looking for breakfast taking very careful steps in the water. Even gifted with three long toes to navigate over the rocks and sand, both the Egret and Great Blue Heron both walk slowly and carefully, contemplating each step.

The Egret quietly spreads its wings and gracefully flies across the river to the opposite bank. Two Canada Geese fly in quietly. On these cold mornings, the wildlife arrive slowly, spending a longer time hiding in the shrubs to keep warm. I wear gloves, a jacket and will keep my visit short on this cold, clear morning. Very few people walk or ride the bridge so far.

Canada Geese, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, river, wildlife, riverEven in the chill, as my hands and body stiffen, and cool air crosses my face, I find an inner peace and joy from watching the daily activities of wildlife at the river – the elegant flight of the seagulls, the Egret and the Great Blue Heron. I listen carefully for distant sounds of Canada Geese approaching and follow their path as they fly over my head. I enjoy watching the Canada Geese and the ducks “dunking” for food.

I listen to ducks quacking and complaining, then seei them splash and chase each other away. Ducks can be very aggressive. The geese tend to be the biggest bullies of all, often chasing away the ducks getting in their way of being fed.

When I am away, I hold these images with me and wish that others find such a peaceful place where they can halt chaotic lives for a few moments and feel gratitude for the natural beauty in our outdoor world.

 

A Place For Peaceful Contemplation

Saturday, November 26, 2016  715 am 48 degrees

Great Blue Heron, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, wildlife, peaceful, waterfowl, American River
The Great Blue Heron steps carefully through the water searching for breakfast.

Two seagulls soar over the bridge as I approach. I spy the Egret on the west side looking for breakfast taking very careful steps in the water. Even gifted with three long toes to navigate over the rocks and sand, both the Egret and Great Blue Heron both walk slowly and carefully, contemplating each step.

The Egret quietly spreads its wings and gracefully flies across the river to the opposite bank. Two Canada Geese fly in quietly. On these cold mornings, the wildlife arrive slowly, spending a longer time hiding in the shrubs to keep warm. I wear gloves, a jacket and will keep my visit short on this cold, clear morning. Very few people walk or ride the bridge so far.

ducks, American River, water, wildlife, waterfowl, peaceful, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings
Three ducks begin their morning swim.

Even in the chill, as my hands and body stiffen, and cool air crosses my face, I find an inner peace and joy from watching the daily activities of wildlife at the river – the elegant flight of the seagulls, the Egret and the Great Blue Heron. I listen carefully for distant sounds of Canada Geese approaching and follow their path as they fly over my head. I smile when hearing ducks quacking and complaining. I watch them splashing and chasing each other away. The geese tend to be the biggest bullies of all, often chasing away the ducks getting in their way of being fed.  I hold these images with me during my time away from the bridge.

This part of the American River remains a peaceful place to pause for a few moments and feel gratitude for the natural beauty in our outdoor world.

 

New Visitors to the River

Thursday December 1, 2016   8:25 am 42 degrees

The sun is high in the sky and white puffy clouds sit along the top edges of distant trees. On my way to the bridge, I see two squirrels playing hide and seek as they dance in circles around a palm tree at the curb. Their sharp claws gripped the jagged trunk. I hear so much chatter from the tree to my left as I walk on to the bridge. Small birds chirp, flap and fly from branch to branch.

A squirrel darts up and down the trunk. I have seen this squirrel-bird conflict in other trees and I wonder if they are naturally unfriendly to each other? Are the birds defending their tree? Are they demanding the squirrel stop shaking the branches as it searches for acorns?Read more

Seagulls Soar, Ducks Swim

Saturday, December 3, 2016 6:35 am 36 degrees

bats, flying, Fair Oaks, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, Buffleheae
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I look to the sky and see a long, black line flying quietly in the sky. Wondering if I am looking at bats flying out from the bridge? Looks like 100s of them are flying above me.

Roosters are active this morning, singing their song from the trees. I am the first one out. I see no one on the way to the bridge. The air is icy cold. A runner jogs past me dressed in his warm ups, jacket and cap. Read more

Morning of Stillness

Wednesday, December 15, 2016 9:30 am 53 degrees

emeralds, stillness, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, morningEach time I visit the bridge, I walk from a nearby parking in the Fair Oaks Village. I listen, I look, I get a “feel” for the morning. Today everything is quiet. Not a single crow from the chickens. No cars driving on the street. Not a single person walking through the Village. I walk downhill to the bridge entrance and see grass as green as emeralds.

Several months have passed since  the landscape was so green. I wonder if I will see fairies dancing or leaping from the grasses.

Read more