A Wild Day at the American River

Sunday, April 30, 2017 9:30 am

Water is flowing fast and flooding the sandy banks, rocks and other land forms where people usually sit and picnic.
American River
This part of the river is called San Juan Rapids because this area is very rocky and usually fairly shallow. Water is always moving swiftly here. Today, far faster and deeper than any other time.

During the summer I can sit on a rock and dangle my feet into shallow water to cool off. More water will come as melted snow rushes down navigates through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the American River.

To my far left, I catch a quick glance at a family of Canada Geese emerging from the rocks and walking into a quiet, shallow area between rocks for a swim. Nine tiny goslings and their parents. My first sighting of babies this year! On my ride back home, I see a skinny little snake about 12” long in the middle of the bike path. I dragged it to the dirt and the back half of its body wriggled and curved. The top half was still. I think it was near death. I let it lay in peace.Read more

More Wild Day at the River

April 30, 2017, 6:30 pm 85 degrees

Visitors crowd the Fair Oaks Bridge taking professional photographs using the American River as a scenic backdrop. The riverbanks are crowded with people enjoying picnic dinners. All people, no wildlife.

As I arrive at the cement bench that has been sitting on its back all year (and shown in my latest blog). The bench is upright again! Did someone read my post or is this an odd coincidence?

American River, flooded, water, riverbank
During the summer, this area is usually so shallow, we can walk at least 1/3 of the way across the river as water rises to our knees. Now a dozen feet of the riverbank is underwater.

I ride on and sit at the riverbank and picnic area where in the fall I watched 100 seagulls, on the opposite shore to my right, wait for salmon to come by and ducks swim, splash and dive near an island to my left. Now the river is running so high, all the islands are underwater and unseen, the waterfowl have moved somewhere else along the river corridor. This section is far too deep and moving too swiftly to find food.

Six Canada geese fly over and disappear as they fly further west. As I prepare to leave the shoreline and keep riding on, I see a Great Blue Heron appear over the water and continue its flight further west. My first sighting of the year!

Waterfowl are here…where to look remains the big question.

Where is the Food?

Monday, May 8, late afternoon ride on the Parkway

I pass by two ducks on a walk for food during a short bike ride on the American River Parkway. They stop to investigate what morsels they find in the dirt. Finding nothing, they cross the path.  I continue to monitor the river to see what waterfowl have returned. The river is still too deep and the search for food remains a challenge.

ducks, American River Parkway, bike path, food, walk
Walking for food on a sunny afternoon
ducks, food, walk, American River Parkway, bike path
Wandering across the bike path

Goslings First Swim

Tuesday, May 9, about 7 pm

On my short bike ride this evening, I stop at the boat launch ramp nearby Fair Oaks Bridge to get a closer look at two new families of Canada Geese. I watch the goslings tiny webbed feet paddle through the water. An exciting day to see new life at the river!

Canada Geese, goslings, swim, American River, Fair Oaks, boat launch ramp
Two families going for a swim.
Canada Geese, gostlings, swim, webbed feet, American River, Fair Oaks, boat launch ramp
Tiny webbed feet paddle as fast as they can go.

Daily Rituals at Fair Oaks Bridge

Thursday May 25, 2017 7 am 57 degrees

Walking through Fair Oaks Village today, all the chickens are silent except for one.

One solo chicken hides in a tree on my way to the Fair Oaks Bridge. It calls every five seconds, over and over and over again. I hear its faint call from the bridge some 100 yards away.

Where is everyone?” “I am awake!”

Dense clouds float above my head. It is a chilly and windy morning. I have already seen half dozen cyclists and several walkers. A lone boater was in the water and more preparing to enter the river. The water is calm. Pigeons coo as they straddle the upper bridge frame. Parts of the bridge are covered in spider webs blown apart by winds.

Even after 20 minutes of standing on the bridge, I still hear the chickens calling and the music of  birds singing while hidden in nearby trees. Three ducks play in the water at the end of the boat ramp. I hear the distant honk of a single Canada Goose and see it fly under the bridge and continue its west facing flight. Pigeons are the only ones flying this morning. I watch a new family of Canada geese swim over to the riverbank, climb up and disappear into the shrubbery. The rocks are laid bare after the severe flooding washed away so many hiding places.Read more