Under partially cloudy skies, I hear the female Mallard quacking without end.I hear her voice every time I visit Fair Oaks Bridge.
Two men launch a rowboat into the American River at the boat ramp and float under the bridge and downriver to the west. The air feels warm outside at first, until I begin to feel the chill on my fingers.
Today the American River looks like a wildlife flyway. So many are flying in and away.
Usually I see one Egret flying in. Today I see a pair!
The Egrets fly under the bridge just above the surface of the water, land on the riverbank at the foot of Fair Oaks Bluffs (the north, sunny side of the river) and quickly fly back in the direction where they had come. I hear the chortle of an unseen Great Blue Heron. A dozen seagulls fly west – high for the long run – and three Mallards soar under the bridge.
I hear the female Mallard still quacking in the distance. Canada Geese fly in full animated with their loud honking to the boat launch ramp and then fly under the bridge. One settles on a concrete pillar supporting the bridge directly in front of me. It looks at me and whispers. More ducks arrive. The Egrets fly off again.
The colors of sunrise change by the minute in strips of burning oranges and yellows that cast dark shadows on the American River.
An Egret glides low across the water. A Great Blue Heron soars silently under the bridge. Buffleheads dive in the center of the frigid waters of the American River. Canada Geese honk as they arrive flying quickly over my head. Others fly under Fair Oaks Bridge and all I can see in their shadows on the water until they pass me – still honking.
I see small clouds of mist forming on the river bend, rolling slowly across the water. White puffy, clouds reflect like a mirror in the American River. I roam along the riverbank finding faces and shapes in the trees and branches.
I enjoy this stunning reflection as I walk on Fair Oaks Bridge looking east to the sunrise – Fair Oaks Bluffs lay on the left side.
Four Canada Geese honk loudly to greet me as they fly over Fair Oaks Bridge. They land with a splash still squawking on the west side. Two more come in and what a noise! Everyone is talking this morning. One lands on the concrete pillar supporting the bridge. I stand on the bridge deck and the goose stands on the pillar alongside. Mist flows from its beak as it continues to squawk and squawk for several minutes.
Who is this goose calling to? What could it be saying? Finally, it quiets down and begins to whisper.
Sun emerges from the heavy cloud cover, shining in thin strips of yellow. Clouds reflect in the American River like a mirror as a thin layer of mist rolls slowly over the surface of the water. I feel the icy air of morning against my face.
Birds sing in chorus with the Canada Geese, honking once again. A single Bufflehead swims and dives in the middle of the river. It is a rare day when at least one Bufflehead is not swimming in the middle of the river diving for breakfast.
An Egret flies in, stands briefly on the boat launch ramp before flying across the river to roam the riverbank at the foot of the Fair Oaks Bluffs. A pair of Egrets fly in next and glide underneath the Fair Oaks Bridge.
Now, the morning is quiet. The sunlight casts shadows on the bridge. The reflections of clouds vanish. Several Buffleheads arrive and swim in the center of the river channel, creating a circular wake in the still, green water.
I hear one chicken hidden in a tree on Bridge Street on my approach Fair Oaks Bridge. It calls out to anyone who will listen. Frogs greet the morning with their own symphony. I want to record their sounds! Two Canada geese approach quickly from the west – appearing first as dark shadows on the river. By the time I see their bodies, they are speeding over the bridge and honking as they go.
Morning clouds spread in thin ribbons, reflecting a hot orange sunrise and overlapping gray clouds. Three ducks land with a splash in the river just behind the tree perched on the edge of the shoreline. Its root system is always exposed until the river floods. The orange glow of sunrise spreads higher and casts an iridescent glow in the water.
My day here is short. I give a final glance to the shimmering water and palette of color in the sky and walk off the bridge.