A Postcard Morning

Thursday, December 13, 2018 710 am 41 degrees

As I walk down Bridge Street I see a chicken and rooster pair searching for food. I see no growing chicks with them. First there were five little peeps. Later only two followed behind. Weeks later, I saw only one small hen scratching the ground with them. Today the pair is alone. I wonder if their chicks died at the paws of a predator, from dehydration or not enough to eat?

Fair Oaks Bluff, mornings, Fair oaks Bridge, American River, water, wildlife,

Pale orange stripes of clouds cross the sky at sunrise. Higher cloud cover blankets the sky in small round puffs revealing patches of blue sky through the openings. Are they dots and dashes of code or cotton batting stretched out? White clouds reflect in the river below. Mist rolls along the surface of the river and around the bend.

sunrise, morning, Fair Oaks Bluff, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mist, clouds

I disturbed a Great Blue Heron standing on the water’s edge of boat launch ramp because I stood too close. It scolded me with a chortle while flying to the opposite riverbank.

A single gull circles over the river in front of me several times and then flies east around the bend. Four ducks fly in from their hiding places and ski into the water. Everyone is looking for breakfast. Today I see three dead and decaying salmon lying at the end of the ramp. This is the first week I have smelled the scent of decaying salmon in the air. I expected this fishy smell to saturate the air weeks ago. On my walk back to Fair Oaks Bridge, I hear the distant call of a rooster roaming on Bridge Street.

 

 

 

Sunrises on American River

Images taken standing on Fair Oaks Bridge of sunrise and sunset over Fair Oaks Bluff.

So many beautiful scenes, watching the sunrise, listening to birds sing and roosters call.  In these images, look for the duck cloud flying through the sky. Canada Geese fly over Fair Oaks Bridge. Brilliant colored streaks line the sky at sunrise and clouds above reflect in the river. Sunset over the Sunrise Blvd. river crossing looks like fire in the sky.

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Seagull Stakes a Claim

Monday, December 17, 2018  10 am  61 degrees

mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, waterfowl, wildlife, American River, grass, morningsWhy does grass grows on Fair Oaks Bridge? Every winter I see new blades of grass emerge on both sides.Our weekend heavy rain wiped away all traces of spider webs on side rails. Hardly a thread can be seen anywhere. A dozen turkey vultures circle overhead looking for dead and decayed salmon floating in the American River. Ducks swim peacefully near the riverbank. Water is green and still.

All morning activity takes place at the boat launch ramp where three dead salmon lay at the end on the right side.

Canada Geese swim in, ducks swim in and pigeons fly in close behind me. What a loud noise their wings create when pigeons rise up and fly away! Sounds like heavy wind blowing on loose ends of plastic tarps. Ducks waddle up the boat launch ramp looking at me and waiting for food. Link to the post Ducks Waddle to watch them retreat calmly back into the water.

Seagulls circle overhead and land. One seagull claims its territory and chases away intruders. It perches upon a rock and calls out. I always wonder what the gulls say when they call out. Now it appears their call is claiming the space as theirs.

Link to the post, Guarding my Claim to watch this seagull chase away competitors for his meal.

Today I brought sliced grapes to share with the geese and ducks. Ducks have always gobbled them up. I throw out handfuls and no one approaches. The Canada Geese sniff and ignore them. The seagulls are eager to try them and eat a few. Most are left lying on the ramp for another time when the waterfowl decide it is time for a snack.

Guarding my Claim

Monday, December 17, 2018 

First the seagull stood on the rock and called to all other seagulls this was his claim. In this video, the seagull chases away its competitors for the dead salmon lying at the end of the boat launch ramp. A few minutes later, the ducks came waddling in looking for breakfast. They ignored the grapes I threw on the ramp. Seagulls enjoyed them as snacks instead.

Ducks Waddle

Monday, December 10, 2018

I stood on the boat launch ramp watching the seagull conflicts. Next, the duck family noticed me standing on the ramp and came close to investigate. Food coming? I had already thrown all the grapes and ignored them. The ducks waited to see if food would magically appear. Seeing none, they quietly retreated and waddled back to the water.

Salmon Swim as Seagulls Watch

December 2018

Salmon completed their fall run this month. Most finished their journey home before Christmas.

A group of salmon splash as they swim upstream through the narrow, shallow river channel

 

This group of salmon swim through the narrow, shallow river channel. I watched them swim in the morning and sunset. Their journey continues. Some stop here to spawn, while others keep swimming. The weir (fence) at the Nimbus Dam blocks further passage up the American River. Salmon find their way to and up the fish ladder at Nimbus Fish Hatchery about 2 miles upriver from Fair Oaks Bridge.

seagull, salmon, American River
They all wait their turn to enjoy a salmon meal

 

 

 

Sitting in the rocky area near the small island in the center of the river, these seagulls patrol the water instead of standing at the shoreline wondering where is the food.

 

 

seagulls, group, salmon, American River,
The narrow, shallow channel the salmon swim through is to the left of the photo. This group of seagulls wait in shallow water for their chance to eat. The opposite shore is the deepest part of the river, where Buffleheads and Goldeneye dive daily in winter months.

Chickens on Parade

Tuesday, January 1, 2019   715 am, 36 degrees

 

morning, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, fishing, boat, observation, nature, outdoors, writing, chill, fishermen
New Year’s Day fishing on the river

Two fishing boats sit waiting in the water on this chilly first day of the year. An Egret flies in from the west and settles briefly on the riverbank before flying to its next stop upriver. A few Buffleheads swim in the center of the river corridor. The resident Mallards stay close to shore.

The true highlight of this New Year’s morning is the resident chickens celebrating with songs and a small parade to greet the day.

I hear their loud chorus on Bridge Street from the middle of Fair Oaks Bridge. Two fluffy chickens roam the street. A rooster is perched high in tree branches and another sings loudly while completely unseen. Their chorus goes on and on all the time I stand at the bridge.

Sunset in the Clouds

Thursday, January 3, 2019,  5 pm

Sunset looking from and at Fair Oaks Bridge. Spectacular view from any where you look. A display of pastels launched this evenings display of color. By this time of the evening, the wildlife had retreated for their evening. Fair Oaks Bridge and boat launch ramp were available for a private showing.

sunet, Fair Oaks Bridge, beauty, outdoors, nature, writing

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Palette of pastels launched the sunrise spectacle
Sunset looking through Fair Oaks Bridge

Morning Echoes

Friday, January 11, 2019   710 am, 50 degrees

I rush to Fair Oaks Bridge this morning expecting to see it covered in fog. No hint of fog and very little mist on the water. Instead I enjoy a pale yellow sunrise masked behind dense strips of white clouds. morning, sunrise, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, nature, outdoors, observation, writing, nature journal, beauty, peace

Minutes after I arrive on the bridge, a crowd of cyclists rumble past me riding from the bicycle trail on the American River Parkway on their way to Fair Oaks Village. A few walkers pass by enjoying the cool morning. Birds twitter unseen in the distance.

I hear the sounds of Canada Geese honking far off in the distance east of the bridge. What sounds like the whistle of a train echoes immediately west of Fair Oaks Bridge. Intervals between the “call and response” echo of the geese and the train get shorter and shorter, until they are both honking and blowing very loudly at the same time. Two geese finally arrive and continue honking as they fly over the bridge.

A gentle wind blows against my face. I expected the air to be far colder, dressing in leggings, jeans, sweater, jacket and gloves. Instead the air feels warm. The sun slowly emerges from behind heavily blanketed cloud cover to reveal a glowing yellow fiery ball of light. The train whistle continues and the Canada Geese keep up their honking as they swim across the river channel. What a noisy morning!  I always wonder what are these geese saying to each other?

A few more walkers pass. Another lone cyclist rides on. I walk to the boat launch ramp to get a closer look at the wildlife. All is quiet here. Three ducks walk up the boat launch ramp. I have no food to serve them.. The same noisy pair of Canada Geese swam over to dunk for breakfast.

Diving ducks swim calmly in the center of the American River. Now you see them. Now you don’t. When you do see them again, they have surfaced somewhere else.

 

 

 

 

Vibrant Sunrise Paints the Sky and River

Friday, February 1, 2019   52 degrees, 7 am

Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, sunrise, American River, nature, observation, wrting, beauty, I am the only one on Fair Oaks Bridge to enjoy this glowing sunrise in shades of pink and yellow, and scattered clouds reflected in the water. Mist rises above the surface of the water far off around the bend as I look east. I feel the air heavy with moisture. Both the river and the air are still.

One cyclist speeds past me, focused straight ahead, One chicken repeatedly calls out on Bridge Street. Many birds greet the morning with songs. I hear chirps, some of them sound like rattling – zzzzzzz. A woman arrives walking her dog. She focuses straight ahead and says nothing as she passes.

I always wonder why so many people walk, run or cycle across this bridge without looking left or right. Some focus on their conversations, others intently hold back their dogs. Very few stop and watch the scene. Some share a quiet good morning greeting as they pass.

Mist moves along the surface of the water from around a distant bend in the river

A group of ducks emerge from their evening hiding place to swim quietly across the river, each leaving  small ripples in the water behind them as they swim. No pigeons are out this morning. I have not seen pigeons in many days. No tiny bird lands to call out its good morning song on the bridge truss over my head.

I hear the loud honk of Canada Geese from a long distance away. Then six geese appear, reminding me of arrowheads shooting across the sky. They are followed shortly by two more geese In seconds, they vanish. Their sound continues to carry through the still air. An Egret soars quietly under the bridge and continues flying around the bend. One more cyclist passes by wearing shorts – I wonder why shorts?

As I stand on the bridge watching the sky, the glowing colors of sunrise reflected through dense clouds fade to a pale pastel orange visible at the horizon. I hear birds continue greeting the morning with their songs.

Canada Geese, mornings, American River, water, Fair Oaks Bridge, beauty, peace, nature, outdoors, wildlife, waterfowl, ducks,
Canada Geese dunk to search for breakfast. Their webbed feet paddle the water to keep them balanced.

I walk to the boat launch ramp to enjoy a different view of the river. A large group of cyclists cross the bridge talking so loudly, I hear their voices on the boat ramp. Seagulls have left this part of the river. The fall salmon run ended weeks ago. The few seagulls that have stayed spend their days upriver where they are more likely to find a plentiful supply of food.

Several ducks emerge from the riverbank. Canada Geese are already out. Three dunk into the water, quietly searching for breakfast. I watch them paddle their webbed feet to help keep them afloat.

 

As I watch the geese and ducks during their morning rituals, I hear the sound of a single duck quack. And quack and quack. She is relentless. I wonder is she the same one I heard last January and February that kept up her calls without stopping as long as she was swimming? Long after she is out of sight, she continues to swim upriver calling without stopping. What is she saying?

(Even when she was one out of two pairs of ducks a year ago, she quacked while the others were silent.) As soon as the Canada Geese begin honking, her voice is barely audible. The geese quiet down. She keeps on quacking. I hear her calls continue as she swims upriver 50 yards and more. I listen intently as she continues her quacks until her voice fades into the distance.