Sunday, June 17, 2017 745 am 71 degrees
An ideal day to spend at the American River after a week of scorching heat all day and evening.
I approached Jim’s crossing over the river and see no waterfowl. Not a single one! Where are they? So much has changed since the winter floods to those who visit the river regularly and see the difference.
I ride to the boat launch ramp before riding up to the Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen are out in their boats, hoping to catch Shad Skippers. These men are the second group of fisherman out on the river in the past couple weeks trying their luck. Kayaks are launching into the river.
Two boats are already in the water with one more to launch. The boat sits in front of a backdrop composed of Canada Geese. From a distance it appears they are floating backwards. Maybe they are as the geese roll along with the current.
I watch another group float downriver in a long, straight line. They all turn to the right and then to the left as if they are dancing in the water.
A cool and gentle wind blows across my skin. The wind blows strong a few minutes, then abruptly stops…and starts again. The breeze keeps the temperature down and feels relief across my sticky skin. Walkers with dogs cross the bridge and sweaty runners. A few cyclists buzz past. Fair Oaks Bridge needs a speed limit sign. Without speed limit sign, cyclists race at what could be 30 MPH on their way. The only indication they are coming is a quiet rumble on the bridge. Then cyclists are upon you. Many people are out for an early morning outing on this picture perfect day.
I hear splashes in the water every few minutes standing at Fair Oaks Bridge. I look over the side of the bridge and see a large dog dive into the river and reappear over and over again carrying his ball. I am still not seeing Egrets or Great Blue Heron. They have left this part of the American River to scour other shorelines to find food. The river edges are ragged now. Much of the food washed down the river, so they go elsewhere. Pigeons have not returned to Fair Oaks Bridge in the same quantity either.
Last fall there were dozens of pigeons flying in aeronautic fashion, flapping, circling the bridge every morning and then settling on the bridge’s might frame. Now, less than a dozen begin their morning patrol at the boat launch ramp, flying in small groups to the bridge and then flying away in a heartbeat as soon as they hear the slightest sound.
More walkers and runners arrive as the morning moves on. Rafters come to the boat launch ramp to begin their floating down the river. It is still early – 845 am. Later today is the annual “Rafts Go Wild,” I will be far away from that chaos. A few geese return to the boat launch ramp and quickly swim away to escape the noise of rafts being blown up and boats being launched into the river.
“How do you paddle?” I hear one rafter ask his buddy. It will be a long day at the river. More kayaks float by. I hear the call of Fair Oaks Village chickens far away in the distance.