Morning Ride on the American River Parkway

Thursday July 5, 2018, 7 am, 68 degrees

Birds twitter in the cool morning air. A gentle breeze blows against my face.

Riding my bike today, I stop briefly on Fair Oaks Bridge to check for wildlife and spider webs. I continue on the American River Parkway trail, stopping at a shallow, narrow place on the American River. This short part of the river is lined with a thick blanket of gravel. The river’s resident Mallards come here to find food. Salmon arrive in the fall to spawn here.

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This shallow area of the river is ideal for salmon to spawn and ducks to bob and swim to find food.

Many salmon swim further upriver to another shallow place, or finish their long journey to Nimbus Fish Hatchery. I chat with several walkers who have also stopped to enjoy the view.

    A Cormorant stands on a small island in the middle of the river channel. I hear a distant quack from an unseen duck once, and then again and again, as if it is calling ‘Where is everyone?’ This rocky island is a fraction of its former size before the winter 2017 flooding. Fishermen used to dock their boats here, set up a chair with their ice chest alongside, and spend a few hours fishing.

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Cormorant takes a rest on the island

My next stop is a picnic area on the riverbank, a short distance from the bike path. I listen to the sounds of the soft breeze and hear the water gently moving downstream. The river is moving more quickly today than recent visits. Small white peaks form on the other side of the river about 100 yards downstream. Could this be where rocks hide underneath and create rapids in the river?

I ride back to the boat launch ramp to watch Mallards searching the water for bugs or seeds or something to nibble on. I sit and watch them paddle through the water and dive head first into the water searching for food. If I had food to give them, two dozen ducks would fly in from anywhere, sensing feeding activity on the river.