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?

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Who are these new arrivals to the river?
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Another new visitor at the American River

Ducks are out for a swim. I see ducks fly over, their wings flapping so fat, they are a blur. They fly in unison and land at precisely the same moment. I wonder if they are getting flying lessons or just staying busy by chasing each other in the middle of the river? I watch them rise up and fly a dozen feet toward the bridge. Then they chase each other half dozen times, settle into the river, float under the bridge and then disappear.

My fingers are chilled and numb, shaking them every minute to warm them up. I look for a sunny spot on the bridge to stand with hopes of warming up. The shadows are on the east side where I stand. The sun is on the west side facing Sunrise Blvd. bridge crossing. Since I don’t want to see traffic lined on the bridge, I always look for activity on the east side.

Suddenly, it is a very busy day at the river! Gulls fly over the bridge in circles and settle in the river. They open their mouths wide and call to each other. Six Canada Gees fly over. I can hear them honking long before I see them flying 100 yards above the bridge. Ducks continue to chase each other in the river.

One seagull calls outs while perched on a rock at the riverbank. Another gull responds from the middle of the river and they continue to call back and forth.

Then all is quiet. I hear the hum of car traffic carried in the breeze. I see new visitors to the American River. A group of ducks I have not seen before all black and white. They swim in the middle of the river, floating quietly. Who are these ducks? Where did they come from? I discover their name is Bufflehead.