Mallard Speak

October 1, 2017 630 pm 72 degrees

A beautiful fall evening capping a warm, breezy day – a fragment of stronger winds of earlier today.

mallard speak, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, morning, salmon, Cormorant
A year ago, this island was large enough to support fisherman docking their boats, bringing a folding chair and ice chest. Now there is barely enough island for Cormorants to stand on.

I stand on Fair Oaks Bridge wondering where the spider webs? I do not see a single one. On a bike ride earlier today, two Cormorants rested on an island in the middle of the river channel. From the bridge I see an Egret return to the riverbank. It huddles on the north side.  Egrets and Great Blue Herons are almost always alone. I wonder why?

narrow, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, salmon, ducks, swim, morning, Mallard speak
American River winds downstream. This is the narrow and shallow area of the river, offering the best viewing of salmon jumping upstream and others spawning in the shallow water.





A few ducks swim around the boat launch ramp – a favorite spot. They are always found in groups or at least in pairs. The ramp is where they are most likely to find a human visitor providing them an easy meal. I rarely see Mallards alone. Even the domestic white Pekin duck, likely released into the river by a family, joins the crowd.

Several Mallards speak, arguing loudly in duck speak language that I do not understand.

Pigeons repeat their circles near the bridge. Once, twice, three times before settle and quickly depart for another destination. All is quiet on American River today. One fishing boat sits. Clouds dot the other side and blanketing the west in overlapping strips of white. The eastern sky resembles an artist palette of pale blue, tinged with gray at the horizon, and pinks and white stretching across the sky.

I hear a splash in the water. What was it? I am not fast enough to see if it was a salmon, beaver or otter? Usually, salmons are the noisy ones. Otters and beavers surface and vanish with hardly a ripple. As I stand on the bridge, I hear a single chicken call. Its voice is loud enough for me to hear standing at least 50 yards away. People are walking dogs.

Six ducks fly under the bridge and I miss photographing their landing. I love watching ducks land on the river. Each time, they stretch out their legs and ski into the water with their webbed feet laid flat, creating a huge splash. Then before two seconds have passed, they fold their legs and wings, settling into the water. Then all is calm.

The pink sunset spreads across the horizon and I watch the blurred edges of dusk transform the landscape into dark shadows.