Wildlife Returns to the River

Friday, March 3,  645 am 41 degrees

The American River is quiet once again after one of the wettest winters in 20 years.

Birds are twittering in distant trees. The entire boat launch ramp is visible, except for a wide strip of mud stretched across it. The sun rises behind thin, white streaks of clouds. I see a cyclist and a pair of walkers this morning out even earlier than I am.

pigeons, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, wildlife returnsAs I walk to the bridge, I wonder what wildlife has returned to this part of the river.  Half dozen pigeons fly in circles over the bridge three times before deciding to settle down on the overhead frame. One flies down and wanders the bridge deck to be joined later by a second pigeon.

As I look out to the water, searching for wildlife, I hear Canada Geese honking immediately behind me. I turn around to see them sitting on a round cement support leg of the bridge (outside the upright bars), discussing what to do next. An instant later, they fly into the sky still engaged in conversation. Next I check for spider webs attached to the bridge and see several perfectly spun webs, no spider to be found.Read more

Winter Chill Lingers

Sunday, March 5, 2017    7 am    43 degrees

A gentle breeze blows to chill the air on this very quiet morning. The temperature apparently too cold for the chickens to wake up.

Only a few chickens are awake this morning after last night’s drizzly rain. Birds are twittering. Water remains on the streets.                   Blue gray clouds blanket the sky with faint differences in shades of gray.

Fair Oaks Bridge, boat launch ramp, boat, American RiverThe bridge is dry, showing no sign of last night’s storm. Standing on the bridge I see the fully exposed boat launch ramp and mound of mud now worn smooth from falling rain. Soon all traces of flooding on the boat ramp and parking lot behind will be washed away. The American River moves quietly downstream with very few ripples returning to its pre-rain state.

The yellow “END” sign is still stuck fast alongside the muddy riverbank in a tangle of branches. A large red reflector attached to the sign post is now visible. I wonder if this is the end of the sign’s journey down river?Read more

Pigeons Dance and Search for Food

Friday March 10, 2017, 645 am  51 degrees

roosters, chickens, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks VillageThe rain gone- suddenly it is warm. Too warm!

Roosters gather to sing throughout Fair Oaks Village. The warm temperature wakes them early. The American River is as calm as it can be. I see few cyclists or walkers. Two Biddleheads swim and dive. A single duck swims.

The pigeons dance in circles overhead, to land on the bridge’s overhead frame. Pigeons gather to eat bits of pastry left on the deck. They peek at crumbs and quickly fly back to their station. The tiniest hint of a breeze or movement is their signal to fly away. Moments later, they return in mass and take to the air almost as soon as they land. Pigeons land on the deck to eat, fly away, eat, fly away over and over again.

pigeons, Fair Oaks Bridge, American RiverWith a loud flutter of wings, a group of a dozen pigeons fly off at one time – lands on the rails, and the bridge frame. I wonder what they could be thinking? Who else will come and take away their food? Are they naturally afraid of slight movements?

Birds chatter like machine gun fire. A lone goose arrives honking and flies under the bridge, as if speeding through a red light. An Egret flies in to the southwest bank. Their usual spot on the riverbank eroded away from the storm. If Egrets arrive at all, they gather to eat and rest on a sandbar some 50 yards to the west. A spot they may need to share with human visitors. Today I see several of them stand guard and fly in circles to an unseen hiding place.

The END sign is gone – floated away to some other end on the river. A dozen uniformed cyclists rumble by. A pair of Egrets fly under the bridge from the west. They split at the boat launch ramp. They fly too quickly to photograph.


Chickens Greet the New Day

Wednesday, March 15, 2017,  7:20 am 57 degrees

Far too warm this morning. Daytime temperature raises to 75 or 80 and it is only March!

Chickens sing good morning. Birds chitter, one calls and another responds from its hiding spot in a tree on the other side of the street. Back and forth. Call and response, half a dozen times. Wildflowers bloom on street side slopes on the way to Fair Oaks Bridge.

White clouds stretch across the sky at sunrise as if they were puffy white batting pulled apart until light shines through. The river is nearly still. A couple walkers pass me and one cyclist. A few more walkers approach. Pigeons arrive at the bridge shortly after I do and fly to the boat launch ramp searching for breakfast nibbles.

Two ducks swim out and a pair of Canada Geese fly unseen. Another goose swims under the bridge and hides under debris at the riverbank. Very little happening that I can see at the river today. Mornings here are very different from the vibrant wildlife scenes and interactions of the fall. I hope as spring progresses, more wildlife will return to the river. 

Fair Oaks chickens enjoy a typical morning in the village. These chickens stay in the road a long time before deciding to cross. Why these chickens cross the road is either they were chased by angry rooster or they are allowing a car to pass by.