On my short bike ride this evening, I stop at the boat launch ramp nearby Fair Oaks Bridge to get a closer look at two new families of Canada Geese. I watch the goslings tiny webbed feet paddle through the water. An exciting day to see new life at the river!
Fog on Fair Oaks Bridge. Fog lays on the water. Fog hovers in the air. Fog hugs the riverbanks and hides the boat launch ramp.
The sun is just now emerging on the horizon, seen as golden ball in the sky. Fog surrounds the trees, as a soft white light fills the background. A circle of light shines down through the trees as if it were a spotlight on stage. Long, thin trees stand erect in dense fog.
I continue my walk to the boat launch ramp and see the bridge surrounded by dense fog and reflected shadows the water. My hands are chilled, feeling the cool, moist air against my skin. A few ducks swim to the boat ramp. One seagull swims alone. Even in the fog, these birds engage in their morning rituals – seeking crumbs, seeds, bugs or worms for breakfast.
All wildlife swim quietly through the fog as if they did not notice the dew settled everywhere.
A quack breaks the silence from a distance, followed by the shrill call of birds. A Mallard arrives with a series of quacks. It swims and dives, swims and dives again, speaking of the experience in between dunks. A seagull lets out a desperate call to any creature who is listening.
Water is completely still. The mist seems to have absorbed some of the smoke. Scattered bright white cloud cover resembles strands of spun gold reflected in the emerging sunlight. Clouds of mist begin around the bend to the east and roll slowly west across the surface of the river. In my full hour out here, I see one walker and one cyclist. Fair Oaks Bridge deck does not look frosty, yet it is still slippery in places. I wear my hooded jacket and wear warm gloves.
I walk down to the boat launch ramp to watch the mist as it rolls under the bridge. A lone seagull flies overhead. One Mallard swims along the ramp calling good morning with a few quiet Quack, Quack! Likely wondering if I brought breakfast. One year ago I took similar photos at this place on the ramp – now one of them is the front cover of Mornings on Fair Oaks Bridge: Watching Wildlife at the Lower American River .
This is the season to experience the most beautiful and peaceful mornings on the American River.
As I stand and watch the mist roll across the river and rise as it goes under the bridge, a Great Blue Heron arrives. It sounds its characteristic good morning chortle and continues its flight east.
The pale blue sky covered by strips of white clouds gives no hint of the smoke that blanketed skies across the region through the week. Another seagull flies over. Four ducks emerge from the riverbank. I hear a bird call from a distance. Early morning mist continues to roll slowly across the surface of the river, enveloping the corridor in a blanket of white.
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.