Watching Wildlife Wake Up

Sunday, September 18, 2016   635 am

American River, American River Parkway, Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, Sacramento, Sacramento County, American River Parkway, scenic, trails, waterWhen I arrive at Fair Oaks bridge, the sun has yet to rise over distant trees on the opposite shore of the American River. I focus my attention on the river landscape and notice so many different habitats for wildlife here. The roosters are the most obvious – they are always the loudest! I have seen Great Blue Herons on the river, Egrets, Canada Geese and a wide variety of ducks. I saw an owl one time and river otters occasionally. Trees, fallen logs, shrubs, and the island farther upstream are excellent hiding places. The river itself, now more shallow than it has been in a long while, creates homes too. The bridge is also home to bats hidden underneath in specially formed concrete slots.

Two walkers approach and tell me a beaver family of three lives between the Sunrise Blvd. river crossing and the bicycle/walking bridge farther west down the river. I need to be there at 630 am when they wake up and scour the shoreline for food to see them.

Before I arrive there are already six boats of fisherman waiting patiently with their fishing lines cast in the green water. I suppose there must be fish to catch. I don’t see any jumping.

flies-on-railThe spiders spin webs all over the bridge catching a feast of flies. Every beam is strung with spider webs. Hmmm. Where are the spiders? I see two large webs as the final resting place for close to 50 flies hanging loose in the air like a tiny net blowing in the wind. I get tangled in one of their hanging threads as I get too close when I walk past.

At this early hour, only 30 minutes after dawn, people are already out walking their dogs, cyclists in full cycling gear and backpacks are speeding across the bridge.

Roosters are patrolling the village crowing in sequence with their wake up call “OOO ––O— OOO—-O— OOO.” One    sounds the call and others respond.

Then another responds and another after that, sending messages to each other throughout the village, up in the trees, down the neighborhood streets and on the bike trail, “Hey, I am awake. Pay attention!” I know their places because I have seen and heard them from everywhere – crowing all the time, even when no one is in sight.

Ducks swim quietly upriver creating a large “V” as their wake in water that is barely moving. Canada Geese are flying overhead.  ducks, swim, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, water

Birds are chattering. One tiny bird sits on one of the frames of the bridge and calls out “Chi Choo…Chi Choo.” I watch its whole small body and tail shake with every call. It jumps from beam to beam trying its best to catch someone’s attention.

Once the sun rises over the bridge and the sun begins to warm the air. It feels like the day has begun and time to go home.