Waterfowl and Birds Soar Over the River

 October 25, 2016 – part two, 11 am, 68 degrees

Drizzle rain stops and starts again. Still very few people outside at 11 am. A warm rain. River is very quiet with cloudy skies and no rain. Ducks search the river for food, wings flap. Faint quacks. Canada geese change position and fly away. A cloudy sky and all is quiet. Boaters sit calmly in the water. The gentle, nourishing rain is a refreshing and welcome change.

Earlier boaters in their rain jackets have sped away heading east toward the weir positioned at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery where the salmon converge to spawn – either in the river or inside the hatchery. Birds patrol the sky. Turkey vultures wait patiently, ready to pounce on whatever has died. I find salmon heads cast off into the rocks. Soon these remains will be consumed by hungry turkey vultures, seagull or other wildlife that find them first.

ducks, American River, raindropsCanada Geese, pigeons, boat launch ramp, American River, Fair Oaks, mornings







At the end of the boat launch ramp, all the colors of the landscape are bright. Thirty pigeons line the dock. In an instant they rise all at once and fly to settle on the bridge overhead frame. Two ducks hide at the riverbank watching the rain.

Turkey vultures fly and their wingspan is huge. As I watch one seagull fly over the river, I think of Johnathan Livingston Seagull soaring over the ocean. An Egret flies overhead, wings flapping ever so gently as it moves swiftly and silently, until it is out of sight. The river is so still that not even the smallest oak leaf is moving. The air is punctuated with the scent of dead salmon masking the sweet smell of freshly fallen rain.

These moments of stillness are rare and to be savored. I can hold these moments inside me and feel peace when I return to this place in my mind.

duckseating-cropIt is drizzling again the ducks are taking shelter. Farther alone the trail I find the ducks dunking in a shallow pool of the river. Shallow levels of the river provide more places for ducks and other shore birds to find food.

I don’t often ride my bike in rain. Today I am richly rewarded. A coyote walks in front of me on the bike trail and veers to the right off the trail as soon as he sees me. He waits for me to come closer as I continue on the bike trail, looks over his shoulder and then walks vanishes into the brush. Just up the road not a minute later, I hear a rustle in the bushes and look to the right. I see only the head and shoulders of a deer, with a full set of antlers rushing through the brush and disappears.

seagull, salmon, American RiverA seagull stands guard on a small rock – just his size – completely surrounded by water – as if to stay, “I claim this space as mine and the salmon will come to me.” It watches and waits, unmoving all the time I watch him. I could easily stay here much longer, watching, listening and asking why is that seagull sitting there so still?

I hear the call of seagulls. I wonder how do they know their way here? Do they follow the salmon from the ocean?

Drizzle begins again. Runners and cyclists are still out. Birds are chattering. I would love to know their language. “kee kee ewe , kee, kee, ewe” With so much to watch, so much to listen for and so much I want to capture to share, I need one part of me to watch and listen, one part of me to write, and another to take photos. I miss the salmon jumping while I am watching the ducks squabble and dunk. I miss the egret arrive while I watch the turkey vultures circle overhead.

 Today I sit at the same place where I saw turkey vultures a few days. Today the oak trees are filled with them. More than dozen vultures sit on the highest branches.  Why do turkey vultures fly to these trees, sitting on branches with no leaves? Does it give them a better view?

I watch the seagull still reigning over the river on his rock. Three ducks swim over. They sit for a while and decide this is not the place for them and leave.