Graceful Flights and Duck Fights

     Thursday, September 29, 2016, 6:45 am, 55 degrees

I arrive greeted by a chorus of roosters singing together all from distant trees. They were all waking at the same time and answering all at once. Cooler today. 55 degrees. I wear my denim jacket to keep the chill off my arms.

American River, sunrise, fisherman, salmon, fishing, sunriseMorning sky is awash with scattered clouds. The pale pink of sunrise is emerging over distant trees. Two boats sit in the water. Fishermen cast their lines and wait. Many of the same walkers come by every morning. I recognize some of them. Two women with hats and one of them wears a warm woolen cape.

A flock of 30 pigeons circles a dozen times around the bridge. They are so close I can hear the flapping of their wings. I wonder if they warm  their bodies by flying so fast? After many flyovers, they settle on the bridge to sleep with their heads tucked under their wing.

The sun rises above the trees with a deep orange glow that expands slowly across the sky.

So much wildlife to see this morning. An egret arrives and flies gracefully to the opposite shore. I see Egrets return almost daily to either Fair Oaks bridge or “Jim’s Bridge” about a half mile west. This snow white bird spends 10 minutes or more standing and watching, then lifting its webbed feet gingerly to walk across the rocks.

egret, flight, wing span, American River
image by D. Keith photography

A Great Blue Heron flies in A rare treat! The little bird that greets me at the top of the bridge has arrived. “Ti. Too. Ti. Too” The ducks are fighting on the opposite bank. They can be very territorial – especially when it comes to breakfast! They bite and squawk and chase each other through the river.

My daughter joins me this morning and we watch as another egret flies in, soaring through the air with a low and graceful flight. Not satisfied with its first choice of landing, we see it fly 50 yards down river with its wings fully extended and held aloft by the wind currents.

We walk to the boat launch ramp to feed ducks and geese. A group of them are waiting. They dive and search for nibbles. Two engage in battle and one is driven away.