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.

Swiftly Moving Water Rushes Down River

Saturday, February 16, 2019    8 am   46 degrees

Swiftly moving water under a densely clouded sky and bitter cold are my morning greetings. Whoosh! Whoosh! Is what I hear as the water bubbles and swirls under Fair Oaks Bridge.

clouds, cloudy, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks bridge, American River, mornings, rain, flood, widlife.

Walkers and runners dressed in warm layered clothing engage in their own conversation as they pass facing forward without stopping for a second to look left to right. A single bird calls. I hear honking Canada Geese in far off in the distance and then they quiet down, still unseen. The waterfowl are still hiding so far. Two ducks flap their wings on the riverbank to my left (north). Most have left the area for calmer and shallow water.

Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, flood, Folsom Dam, release water, Fair Oaks Bluff
The signature tree that clings to the riverbank is surrounded by water on all sides.

Folsom Dam releases water in response to recent storms. Water rushes through the Lower American River and through the gates of Nimbus Dam. The water level under Jim’s Bridge half a mile downriver appears only a foot or two below the deck. I suspect with more storms, the entire bridge may temporarily disappear under the river.

Fair Oaks Bluff, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, oak trees, flood, habitat
Barren oak tree skeletons stand atop Fair Oaks Bluff.

This activity or the absence of it, is common for winter on the river. All spider webs are washed clean. Grass grows between every board on the bridge deck from one end of the bridge to the other side. When was  the last time I saw turtles sunbathing on the river? The long branch that extends from the riverbank over the river just under the bridge is empty. Where did the turtles go?

Canada geese, boat launch ramp, American River, Fair Oaks BluffA single bird calls. I hear the sound of Canada Geese honking in the wind and then silence. They remain unseen. Wildlife hide in nests safely away from the rising river. All spider webs have vanished. Do not remember the last time I saw turtles on the fallen branch that rests directly under Fair Oaks Bridge. As I stand observing the river, a succession of runners dressed in red t-shirts, all ages from new parents to older adults walk and run in training for a run.

At the boat launch ramp, resident ducks and Canada Geese search for tidbits of food. They find little – all washed away by the rain.

 

 

Quacking in Harmony

Sunday, February 17, 2019 11 am   44 degrees

A beautiful day with clouds in shades of gray and puffy white set against a clear sky blue background. The wind chills my hands and face.  No chickens run anywhere near the bridge. I stand briefly on Fair Oaks Bridge. No wildlife on the scene as water rushes down the river, flooding riverbanks even more than yesterday.

I walk to the boat launch ramp where a gathering of Mallards and Canada Geese are scavenging. Today I see a duck limping and wonder if this is the same duck I photographed months ago. The non-stop quacking female duck I met a year ago is also part of the group. She carries on for 10 minutes. First she listens. Then she talks. What could she be saying – “Where are you anyway?” “What took you so long? You were supposed to be here for breakfast?”

She calls the male duck swimming in the water and they quack together in harmony and  a quick call and response. Her whole body shakes as she sings her song. Eventually she tires of this distant conversation, flies off the boat ramp to swim downriver and continues to quack on.

Flooded riverbanks and trails cut the rest of my walk short. Notice “in standing water” location of the No Bicycles marker for the horse trail and new pond in the middle of the walking trail.

flood, American River, trail, walk, scenic, water

Where is Breakfast?

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 730 am, 46 degrees

On this chilly morning, I am alone to listen to the gentle sounds of birds waking up the morning with songs. Again, I hear the female Mallard I hear many days at Fair Oaks Bridge. Wonder what she could be quacking about this time?

breakfast, muscovy duck, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American RiverWalking to the boat launch ramp, I see the water level continues to expand beyond its usual boarders at the riverbank. The bike path is closed at the parking lot near the boat launch ramp.

The Muscovy duck and a partner walk up the ramp expecting food when they see me. They quietly turn to face the river and ponder where to go next. It seems that they are staring at the swollen river and bare riverbanks and left wondering. Then with a great whoosh of feathers, both ducks rise up and fly to the other side where they vanish from sight.

breakfast, mornings, Canada Geese, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, observation, guardTwo Canada Geese arrive, skidding into the river before approaching the boat ramp. Shortly after the first geese arrive, two more arrive, honking wildly.

The first two quickly argue with the new arrivals, flap their wings and squawk. The intruders get the message to scram and fly away in an angry huff, honking all the way.

Finding nothing to eat at the ramp, the geese approach me expecting a handout. I have nothing to share. More geese fly in heard and unseen. I hear two Canada Geese honking behind me. They round the bend of the river unseen, honking loudly. One duck sits in the middle of the river corridor and lets the rapid current carry it downstream and under the Fair Oaks Bridge. Another arrives minutes later, dives, pops back up and continues its floating adventure downstream.

Fair Oaks Bluff, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, nature, outdoors, beauty, peace, skeletons, trees
Trees stand guard as dark skeletons on Fair Oaks Bluff against a cloudy sky.

The natural world has its own rhythms and it teaches us to be patient. Nature is no hurry.

Even as I stand and listen to the swoosh of swiftly moving water, the ongoing buzz of traffic from Sunrise Blvd. bridge and the occasional honking of Canada Geese in the distance, the setting is still peaceful and quiet. No chilling wind blows on my face. I stay standing on the boat ramp looking and listening. I stand still to allow this peaceful experience to enter my body and relax the tenseness and the stress that lies within.

 

Fun at Boat Launch Ramp

Monday, February 18, 2019

The boat launch ramp nearby Fair Oaks Bridge has its own stories. Featured below are photos taken before and after the rain. Together they reveal a small part of the stories of this place.

ducks, Mallard, boat launch ramp, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings
The infamous nonstop quacking duck on the right. They search for food and wait for me to throw them breakfast.

This is where visitors feed ducks and I watch them play, dunk, wash and search for bits of food. Fishermen launch their fishing boats here and others climb into their rafts for a ride on the river. I often see people come to sit on the bench, or park their car to watch and enjoy this peaceful setting. This is the ideal vantage point for all my bridge photos.

seagulls, swim, boat launch ramp, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, stories, breakfast
A few seagulls remain to search for food through the winter at the boat launch ramp and upriver in other shallow water.

 

 

I often mention this ramp in blog posts because it is the site for so much activity watching ducks, Canada Geese and seagulls. They search for food, they argue, they shout and listen for others to join them.

 

 

Flooded boat launch photo taken from Fair Oaks Bridge in between rainstorms after large releases of water rushed down the American River. Two other photos shown were taken in early February.

Cold, Frosty Morning

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 730 am, 37 degrees

A cold and very frosty morning! Slipper ice lines the deck of the bridge. 

Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks Bluff, American River, rain, sunrise, clouds,Sunrise emerges behind clouds that envelop the sky in a huge, gray blanket. A quiet and peaceful morning. A few walkers are out and we are all bundled in jackets and gloves.

I hear birds and wildlife that remain unseen. The river seems lower than this morning – water is periodically being released from Folsom and Nimbus Dams during winter rains raising the level of the river and expanding it on the riverbanks and up the boat launch ramp. I hear the sound of the water and the wind as my face is chilled in the morning air.

Markers on the Trail

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

During walks on Fair Oaks Bridge and along the American River Parkway I enjoy taking note of how visitors mark memories of this beautiful place. I also caught a rare close up of a squirrel pausing long enough while eating to pose for this photo.

squirrel, eat, tree, hide, American River Parkway,heart, American River Parkway, American River, marker, memories, memory, heart, trail, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks Bluffmarker, American River, rocks, American River Parkway, water, beach, Fair Oaks Bluff, Fair Oaks Bridge

heart, Fair Oaks Bridge, deck mornings, roses

Sunrise Between Rainstorms

February 2019

 In between rainstorms, sunrises continue to paint pictures awash in blue and gold as sun reflects through heavy cloud cover in the sky east of Fair Oaks Bridge.

 

Cloud Candy in the Sky

February 2019

So many cloud formations grace the sky. Photos taken over several days in mid February.

I see ribbon candy and finely woven blankets in the sky. Other cloud formations create stunning backdrops for sunrises and beautiful days to enjoy the beauty of the American River.

 

Canada Geese Argue over Territory

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 710 am, 41 degrees

Entering the bridge, I look around and wonder where are the pigeons? I cannot remember the last time a dozen of them were perched on the overhead bridge truss to rest. Today I hear one coo and see none. Pigeons have always been the first birds to arrive, dancing in the sky, circling several times over the bridge before landing.

Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, nature, birds, observation, writing, outdoorsThe tiny bird that greets me with Ti Too! sits long enough for me to hear its call and then flies away. It always sings from the highest part of the bridge frame.

Not a single spider web stretches across the bridge side rails. I wonder where have the spiders gone?

Grass still grows through the deck boards. A duck flies solo under the bridge, as two airplanes let out a jet trail of smoke behind them as if they are drawing a long, then stripe on a blue chalkboard in the sky. A few runners pass, people walking their dogs and two cyclists speed by. The morning is so quiet I  hear the sound of a vehicle driving over the gravel in the boat ramp parking lot. The air is chilly with no breeze. Occasionally I see my breath float above me into the air. The sky is pale blue without no clouds. Far different from the day before when white stripes, tinged with gold crossed the sky.

mist, sunrise, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, write, nature, observe, outdoorsSun is just emerging over the trees behind the boat ramp. As it rises, a thin and puffy blanket of orange mist appears around the bend in the river and rolls slowly along the surface of the water.

Standing at the boat launch ramp, I to see a group of eight ducks swimming toward the ramp. Suddenly most of them dive and disappear. They reappear, and as if they were on cue, rise up at precisely the same moment, flying low and swift to disappear around the river bend. One lone Canada Goose stands at the foot of the ramp, watching, waiting, or maybe wondering.

When I walk back on the bridge, I see a goose standing on the top of the truss. Rare to see waterfowl fly and rest on the top. I walk further and there is a goose resting on a pier. However, it makes a quick exit when two other loudly honking geese arrive and land on the pier and rest comfortably. Apparently, the pier is not big enough for three.

Canada Goose, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, outdoors, nature, observation, write, beauty, TrussCanada Geese, Fair Oaks Bridge, pier, American River, mornings, nature, outdoors, beauty,

Two geese on the pillar continue to whisper. I wonder what they could be thinking about the conflict at the riverbank from their vantage point?

Eight Canada Geese arguing over territory shatter the silent morning. On the south riverbank, geese are honking and flapping wings and chasing the intruding geese away – first off a small spot of land and then shooing them away in the river. This continues until the geese split up. Some stand on the riverbank. Others swim alone in the river.

The sun sits far above the trees now. All hint of mist on the river has vanished. More ducks have come to dunk and search for breakfast. The two Canada Geese on the pier stand quietly, engaging in morning cleaning rituals, watching, resting and enjoying a panoramic river of the American River.