When I arrive at Fair Oaks bridge, the sun has yet to rise over distant trees on the opposite shore of the American River. I focus my attention on the river landscape and notice so many different habitats for wildlife here. The roosters are the most obvious – they are always the loudest! I have seen Great Blue Herons on the river, Egrets, Canada Geese and a wide variety of ducks. I saw an owl one time and river otters occasionally. Trees, fallen logs, shrubs, and the island farther upstream are excellent hiding places. The river itself, now more shallow than it has been in a long while, creates homes too. The bridge is also home to bats hidden underneath in specially formed concrete slots.Read more
Bright light reflects on the water. A cool breeze blows across my face. Today, unlike yesterday, a loud hum echoes from the Sunrise Blvd. bridge crossing as early risers drive to and from Highway 50.
The roosters have already finished their morning wake up calls. A few stragglers are still crowing. Two men float in their boats with fishing lines cast. More cyclists ride by than the same time yesterday. Walkers are out with their dogs. As I walk onto the bridge, an egret flies in on the west side and quickly hides in the shrubbery at the shore. Ducks swim in pairs, searching for breakfast nibbles on insects. Tomorrow I will bring bread to feed them down at the boat launch ramp.Read more
The eastern sky looks as if an artist brushed in pale pinks to add some contrast to the blue sky.
I return to the bridge for my seventh consecutive day. Clouds that blanketed the sky last night after dark are all gone. To the west, traffic is light on the Sunrise bridge. Whizz and roar of traffic carries through the air.
Morning temperature of 55 degrees continues. As the sun rises, it casts a warming light on the bridge. I enjoy feeling its warmth on my face. I wear my denim jacket again today to keep the chill off my arms.Read more
This is a quiet Sunday morning when the neighborhood sleeps late. Roosters are awake. My first impressions when I approach the bridge is how bright it is so early in the day. I wonder how the shadows change as the sun moves through the sky? I will return to the bridge before sunset and find out.
Today instead of seeing scenic beauty first in the morning, I see remnants of a dozen burnt out sparklers and fountains saved from the fourth of July left in the center of the bridge.
When I left home, the air temperature was 50 degrees and the morning light was emerging from the east. By the time I park my car, the temperature had dropped to 49. Mist covered my car windows. Sunrise is scattered pinks and oranges as the sun shines through scattered clouds.
So far the roosters crowing to wake up the day are the only living creatures I see moving. No cars or people moving.
The sun is high in the sky and white puffy clouds sit along the top edges of distant trees. On my way to the bridge, I see two squirrels playing hide and seek as they dance in circles around a palm tree at the curb. Their sharp claws gripped the jagged trunk. I hear so much chatter from the tree to my left as I walk on to the bridge. Small birds chirp, flap and fly from branch to branch.
A squirrel darts up and down the trunk. I have seen this squirrel-bird conflict in other trees and I wonder if they are naturally unfriendly to each other? Are the birds defending their tree? Are they demanding the squirrel stop shaking the branches as it searches for acorns?Read more
Water is flowing fast and flooding the sandy banks, rocks and other land forms where people usually sit and picnic.
During the summer I can sit on a rock and dangle my feet into shallow water to cool off. More water will come as melted snow rushes down navigates through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the American River.
To my far left, I catch a quick glance at a family of Canada Geese emerging from the rocks and walking into a quiet, shallow area between rocks for a swim. Nine tiny goslings and their parents. My first sighting of babies this year! On my ride back home, I see a skinny little snake about 12” long in the middle of the bike path. I dragged it to the dirt and the back half of its body wriggled and curved. The top half was still. I think it was near death. I let it lay in peace.Read more
An ideal day to spend at the American River after a week of scorching heat all day and evening.
I approached Jim’s crossing over the river and see no waterfowl. Not a single one! Where are they? So much has changed since the winter floods to those who visit the river regularly and see the difference.
I ride to the boat launch ramp before riding up to the Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen are out in their boats, hoping to catch Shad Skippers. These men are the second group of fisherman out on the river in the past couple weeks trying their luck. Kayaks are launching into the river.
Two boats are already in the water with one more to launch. The boat sits in front of a backdrop composed of Canada Geese. From a distance it appears they are floating backwards. Maybe they are as the geese roll along with the current.Read more
A crowd of Canada Geese and Mallards are sitting at the foot of the boat launch ramp this morning, engaged in their morning rituals. Ducklings swim by. More Mallards fly in, arriving with a chorus of “quack, quack, quack.”
I watch carefully this morning as the ducks land in the water. They stretch out their legs at a slight angle, water ski as they touch the water for a second, then fold their legs and settle their bodies into the water. This morning I see a Cormorant with its characteristic yellow beak and huge wingspan. I have seen them now several times on my bike rides on the American River Parkway to Rossmoor Bar.
The Cormorant arrives at the boat launch ramp, ignoring all the other waterfowl. It stares out into the water, stretches its neck and spread one wing as if hanging it to dry. After a few minutes of airing its wing, I watch this new visitor to the American River walk back into the river and swim away.
Canada Geese arrive at the boat launch ramp, walking over to the ground behind the ramp, beaks down scavenging for breakfast bites. The geese always seem to be the last to come in the morning. Pigeons first, then Mallards, then the geese wake up and show themselves for breakfast.
I ride my bike to Rossmoor Bar and watch an army of ants crawl across the picnic table in view of the water. The sandbars are exposed once again and waterfowl rest on them. I sit and listen to the gentle sound of water rushing by at this place – the San Juan Rapids. I feel a cool breeze on my face. I watch the ducks swim in a small area of shallow water as geese stand guard on the sandbars.
Today, the river is relatively quiet. I rarely see rafters or kayakers. The snow in the Sierra has yet to melt and run down river. Will this area rage with floods again in the fall?
I hear what sounds like a foghorn repeated three times as I sit on Fair Oaks Bridge. What is that sound? Where is it coming from?
At Jim’s Bridge a few ducks are swimming and scavenging. I pass them by and ride on to the boat launch ramp where all is quiet. One woman stands in a boat in the middle of the river channel and casts her fishing line. Birds are calling their morning song, even though I cannot see even one. I hear a chorus of tweets and rattles. Pigeons roost on Fair Oaks Bridge.
One Mallard approaches me waiting to receive handfuls of breakfast treats. As it poses for me and waits for a bite to eat, we both hear a quack in the distance. The duck raises it neck and listens for the sound. After a few minutes of waiting for me to throw food and discovering, I have none to give, the duck wanders back into the water.
Another day at the river without even a strip of white clouds in the sky. Looking carefully, I see faint wisps of white, as if an artist used a very dry brush on a pale blue canvas. I hear a chicken call from the distance. The calm waters enhance this peaceful scene. Out of the quiet, a cyclist at high speed races by, rumbling across the bridge deck as he passes.
Half dozen Canada Geese patrol a distant shore. Still no Egrets. No Great Blue Heron. I search for them every time I come and they must have gone elsewhere where food supply is plentiful. No turtles today hanging out on a branch to sunbathe.
I hear a persistent cough coming from an unseen person hiding on the riverbank directly under the bridge. I have heard these coughs several times during morning visits to the bridge and rarely see the source.
The sun is high in the sky. The morning temperature is still cool. I ride west on the American River Parkway to my usual morning stopping point – a picnic bench on a bluff overlooking sandbars on the river. No waterfowl there. No cyclists on the bike trail yet.
On my ride home I look for the tall and long dead tree where woodpecker families call home. I see a family of four flying from one branch to another, sitting, drumming, joining others, flying off again, sitting in a line. I focus in for a photo and they fly away again.