Muscovy Duck on Watch


Saturday, March 10, 2018   640 am, 52 degrees


Muscovy duck, native, American River, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, outdoors, nature, writing,I arrive at Fair Oaks Bridge to see the Muscovy duck resting on top of the bridge frame. Not sure if it is admiring the view or escaping other ducks. After a short time of observation, it flies off the bridge to circle underneath several times before leaving the area.

The Muscovy is difficult to figure out. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America and somehow it arrived here alone and became a permanent resident of the American River in Fair Oaks.

Birds chatter. Honking Canada Geese appear and fly over the bridge and out of sight. I hear the distant quack of a duck that I suspect is the same whose persistence kept up day after day on each of my visits earlier in the year. What was she complaining about so vocally? Quacking and swimming without stopping for 10-15 minutes. I could hear her tiny voice more than 100 yards up or down river on any morning.

I see a group of Mallards arrive and land with a splash. They swim near the riverbank. The Buffleheads head for the center, diving where it is deepest to scout for breakfast. The Muscovy duck flies in and joins the Mallards for a swim.


Rabbit and Chickens Play

April 11, 2018, 7 am   51 degrees

rabbit, Mornings on Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, American River, chickens
Rabbit and chickens hide in bushes along Bridge Street. They come out searching for breakfast before vanishing again.

The chickens roamed quietly on Bridge Street as I approached Fair Oaks Bridge. I heard a chorus of birds singing in the trees to my left, as the chilly air blew against my face. The sun was just emerging over the horizon through white and gray clouds. I saw two ducks swimming from shore. A few people walking past quietly on this peaceful morning. I walked across the bridge enjoying the sunrise, while my son kept his eyes on the resident rabbit munching on its breakfast.

Another short day…enjoying a few moments outdoors.

Morning Companions

Sunday, April 15, 2018, 630 am     52 degrees

morning companions, pigeons, Fair Oaks Bridge, walk, American River, mornings, food, breakfast
Seemingly frustrated there is no food on this long bridge walk.


I hear the usual good morning calls from one lone chicken living in the bushes along Bridge Street. A dozen pigeons circle the Fair Oaks Bridge. Some land and walk the deck.

Clouds scatter across the sky as if they were blue gray spires of spun sugar with golden tips at their end. The air is still and cool. The river moves quickly downstream. As the sun emerges on the horizon, it shines brilliantly through dense cloud cover.


otter, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, swim, morning companions
River otter swims just below surface beneath Fair Oaks Bridge, dives deeper and disappears.

The branch where I watch turtles sunbathe is completely underwater. A river otter surfaced from underneath the north riverbank, swam under Fair Oaks Bridge and disappeared.

I am surrounded by the morning melodies of birds singing from high trees heard and unseen. As all other wildlife leaves Fair Oaks Bridge and the nearby areas, birds continue to sing. I stand alone on the bridge, and listen to the music of my morning companions.

Otters Play

Wednesday, May 22, 2018   730 am 55 degrees

Under dense cloudy skies and a chilling wind, a dozen small birds race in circles over and over again along the east side of Fair Oaks Bridge. One pigeon stares down at me standing on the large truss frame. Pigeons coo from under the bridge. They perch on a ledge underneath the deck for their own unobstructed view of the American River. Ducks and geese have yet to appear. One duck off in the distance greets the morning with a “Quack. Quack.” A quiet and calm morning. The emerald green water is still. A few cyclists pass by. No walkers. Wondering where the turtles go when they are not sunbathing on the branch?

cormorant, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, wildlife, swim
My first sight of a Cormorant at Fair Oaks Bridge this year.
river otters, American River, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, mornings, wildlife, nature
Where are the otters hiding this morning? This photo taken in April.

First Ducklings

Wednesday, May 29, 2018   7 am, 62 degrees.

Morning clouds resemble a heavy blanket of batting spread with gentle hands stretching across the sky. Birds twitter. I see my first ducklings of the year.

first ducklings, American River, fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, water, wildlifeToday I sit and enjoy this beautiful, breezy morning, always in awe at how the colors of morning change every moment. As Canada Geese approach, I hear honking in the distance. A few walkers greet me. Cyclists shake the bridge as they speed past.

first ducklings, American River, Great Blue Heron, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, wildlife, water        Across the river, a man prepares to launch his canoe at the boat launch ramp. I watch a ribbon of light on the river reflecting the sun move from the center of the American River channel to the south side as the sun continues to rise higher in the sky. I enjoy scenic views farther along the American River Parkway, catching up with a Great Blue Heron and fishermen waiting for the big bite.

Spider Web Geometry

Monday, June 3, 2018   7 am

Morning begins with hearing the calls of a single chicken hidden in bushes on Bridge Street. It repeats every 2-3 minutes reminding me it is still there, calling to anyone to hear. American river is quiet except for the sound of birds greeting the new day. A fisherman floats in his boat on the sparkling water. Pigeons walk the upper frame of Fair Oaks Bridge guarding their territory. The sky is pale blue without even a wisp of clouds.

I notice a dozen intricately woven spider webs clinging to the sides of Fair Oaks Bridge. Dozens of tiny insects lay trapped inside. Their fates sealed by sticky webs. Besides a dozen pigeons arriving at the bridge, the spiders are the only creatures I see moving this morning.

spider webs, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, geometry

I continue to wonder how spiders acquire such precise weaving skills. Are they born with internal maps? Where do they begin to weave? How do they measure the length of each strand and intersecting line? Do they view their handiwork from a distance to see their progress?

spider webs, geometry, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, weave, nature, writing,spider webs, geometry, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, American River,nature, outdoor, writing, wonder



Shimmering Water at Sunrise

Saturday, June 9, 2018, 530 am, 61 degrees

One more beautiful and peaceful morning at Fair Oaks Bridge.

Today is the earliest I have ever arrived at Fair Oaks Bridge. I opened my front door to see  a dense cloud cover and the beginning of a beautiful sunrise. I hurried to the bridge to enjoy the view.  The air is cool with a slight breeze. Chickens and birds are awake. One chicken calls out every 10 seconds from Bridge Street – a short street ending at the entrance to Fair Oaks Bridge.

shimmering sunrise, mornings, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, wildlife, sunrise, shadows, patterns, pigeons, chickens, Fair Oaks Bluffs,

Today the eastern sky is blanketed with clouds that resemble row after row of huge sheets of deep gray cotton.  Pale strips of blue sky peek out between the spaces. A golden glow slowly emerges at the horizon. Standing on Fair Oaks Bridge, I see the lower clouds reflect a deep orange glow. Trees lining the river are still in shadow.

As the sun rises higher, the river shimmers with a golden iridescent glow that shifts its position to match the rising sun. Shadows and shimmering light change shape as the sky brightens. Intense colors reflected through the clouds change minute by minute. Finally daylight reveals the hard edges of the bluffs and dense landscape along the river.

I marvel at this changing palette of color every time I see it. The spectacle of each sunrise caused by the earth’s rotation are moments of joy and wonder. Cloud patterns, whisper and chill of the wind, combined with the sounds and movement of wildlife change every day. Each new sunrise is a different experience.

Pigeons coo as they fly over the American River. They display their usual anxious morning attitudes. As the day brightens, a dozen resident pigeons settle into their morning routine: flying in circles over the bridge, resting briefly on the highest part of the truss frame, flying again and then landing on the deck for a walk searching for breakfast nibbles. Just as I think, it is too early for the Mallards to be out for a swim, I hear one quack.

Lazy Day at the River

Thursday, June 28, 2018,   830 am   68 degrees

Fair Oaks, slow, ducks, morning, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, sparkle, rest
Two ducks rest on the boat launch ramp.

A lazy river moves gently down stream today.

Light breeze, warm sun. I watch a line of Canada Geese swim slowly and quietly across the American River. Leaves fallen from trees on the riverbank float in the water. Other leaves flutter through the air and land softly on the deck of Fair Oaks Bridge.

A man in a kayak floats under the bridge from the west. A boat launches from the ramp on the east side of the bridge. Not a cloud anywhere.

This morning I joined the Walking Sticks for a short walk to the bridge. They crossed Fair Oaks Bridge and kept on walking. I stopped to enjoy the peaceful moments of this beautiful morning on the river. The water glistens with silver tips. I watch the sparkling patterns on the water change as it moves under the bridge. I hear birds twitter in the trees nearby. Then the hoot of an owl…or is it a Morning Dove greeting the new day?

I am surprised to see even the cyclists are moving slowly.