Sunday, January 14, 2018 740 am, 47 degrees
As I approach Fair Oaks Bridge this morning, the only sounds I hear are my own footsteps, a few random chicken greetings and songs from birds still hidden from view.
Given the degree of mist hanging in the air and the chilly temperature, I expected to see fog covering all views on the bridge. High clouds and distant fog hung suspended over the hills. The American River was clear and without any of the characteristic mist rolling downstream I have seen so many other mornings.
Two men launch a fishing boat. I hear Canada Geese honking approach from the east. They are invisible until within 20 yards of the bridge. Then they fly over so fast there is no time to capture them in a photo. All four of them land softly in the river on the west side of the bridge at precisely the same moment and glide downstream. Loud honking continues as others join the chorus. The sounds carry half mile in the still air.
On the east side of the bridge, near the boat launch ramp, one duck begins to complain. “Quack! Quack! Quack!” The chatter goes on and on without end. I am barraged by sounds of wildlife as I stand on the bridge. See video below.
Canada Geese are honking on the west side of Fair Oaks Bridge and ducks are quacking at the boat launch ramp on the east side. Morning pandemonium!
I notice two dead salmon lay still in the river. No birds approach to eat them. I walk to the boat launch ramp intent on seeing the very agitated duck. Forty runners training for a marathon cross in front of me on the American River bike trail. Several cyclists quickly approaching from behind followed runners. A busy morning!
Two male Mallards and two females swim in the river near the boat launch ramp. One female is very upset and starts quacking again. She does not stop. Two minutes later, she has not taken a breath. She continues. As she swims, she is close enough that I can watch her beak open and close, open and close. The three males swimming nearby pay no attention. I wonder what could have upset her to prompt such a one-sided conversation?
I stay and listen and watch. She continues her casual swim and squawks for another 10 minutes without stopping for more than a few seconds. I still hear the distant call of Canada Geese. As the four Mallards swim away, the only visible duck left is a Bufflehead in the center of the river, diving for breakfast. Staying underwater for a half minute before surfacing – and then doing it all again.
Today is a bitter cold, wet and very noisy morning!