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.
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.
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.
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.
Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, 730 am, 49 degrees,
Chickens call to each other to greet the day on my way to Fair Oaks Bridge, They call across the Village from the parks, hidden in trees, roaming parking lots and streets.
I take a deep breath in as I walk and enjoy the scent of wildflowers in full bloom lining both sides of Bridge Street with blankets of small white flowers. I savor the scents and sounds of spring.
It was already daylight at my first sight of morning at 530 am. The full moon was still pasted in the western sky. Standing now on Fair Oaks Bridge, the sun sits high above the trees in a cloudless sky. Its reflection is so bright, I squint looking toward the boat ramp. The air feels much warmer than 49 degrees when the sun warms my face.
A chorus of birds twitter and chat, flying in groups of more than a dozen as they circle around and underneath the bridge. Way off in the distance on the west side, Canada Geese are shouting at each other. They may have settled on Jim’s Bridge to search for breakfast. I stand alone with the twittering birds and a single rooster calling from Bridge Street. Occasionally a walker or two pass me. The river is deep green and flowing quietly downstream, with few ripples all the way around the bend.
I search for spider webs and see one at least 9” in diameter – a perfect example of geometric lines – stretched from the angular bridge truss to a side rail. A dozen small insects are caught and waiting to be eaten. Directly beneath the web is one more that seems to have been stretched by gusts of wind. A third web hangs on the side rails a few feet from the other two. All on the east side. Rare to see spider webs on the west side.
What gives spiders the talent for spinning perfectly woven webs where all strings are the same size and held together in perfect angles?
I walk over to the boat launch ramp with food for the ducks. They waddle up the boat ramp to investigate their breakfast treat – all the while whispering to each other, quickly nipping and swallowing anything they can find on the ramp. Canada Geese and pigeons arrive. Everyone takes their fill of food. Some ducks keep themselves busy with morning clean-up rituals, while others search the river looking for breakfast. A pair of Canada Geese arrive honking loudly as they circle over the river and take their usual places to watch the river standing on a concrete pier supporting Fair Oaks Bridge. Birds twitter. An Egret lands on a tree top across the river.
Visiting Fair Oaks Bridge continues to be a beautiful and peaceful way to celebrate the morning.