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.

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.

A Noisy Morning

Sunday, March 24, 2019   710 am, 43 degrees

American River, boats, fishermen, sunrise, outdoors, natura, water, launch, mornings

Chickens wander Bridge Street calling out their wake up songs. Today was another chilly morning when my breath flowed through the air. A pair of fishermen launch their boat at the same time the sun rises over the trees to gently warm the morning. Thin white clouds hang in the sky like a veil over a soft, pastel colored sky.

As signs of Spring emerge, I see life at the American River in motion once again. Spiders spin webs on the side rails of Fair Oaks Bridge. Birds actively greet the morning with a chorus of tweets, rattles and coos. Ducks swim to the center of the river corridor and dive for breakfast.

I see them dive in one spot and reappear some five or ten yards away. Ducks fly in and “water ski” on the river as they quietly splash down. Green grass growing in between every board on the bridge deck is slowly turning pale yellow. As I stand on the bridge watching the wildlife, runners and walkers pass enjoying an early day outside.

Canada Geese, ducks, guard, boat launch ramp, American River, fishermen, eat, boat, battle, squabble
Canada Geese guard their place on boat  ramp

The arrival of several pairs of Canada Geese dominated morning activity with their loud honks and territorial squabbles. Another pair arrived every few minutes. All of them are in constant motion, continuously honking for most of an hour. A single goose stands on the concrete pier of Fair Oaks Bridge watching the scene, calling to everyone as they arrived.

After last week’s episode when the goose was rudely shooed off the pier as a pair arrived, I wondered if it was calling, “Find some other place to rest, I am not moving this time!”

Some geese perch at the top of the bridge truss. Others settle into the water. The first pair to arrive stake their claim on the boat ramp and the water directly in front of it. When another pair land in their claimed space, one goose rises up, flaps its wings, honks and shoos them away until the pair swam elsewhere. These unwelcome geese eventually fly away to a different part of the river. The original pair stand guard at the boat ramp.

I watch as each pair of geese arrives, they splash down in the river or wander to the riverbank nearby the Fair Oaks Bridge. Moments later, the geese rise up to circle east of the bridge, land on the Fair Oaks Bluff for a few seconds, take off again, and continue their circular flight before settling back down again into the water – honking all the way. The pairs repeat this pattern of flying in circles over and over again. As soon as a new pair geese land in the water, the first unfriendly pair quickly chase them away.

I wonder do they get a better view of breakfast swimming in the water as they swim overhead? Or are they stretching their wings and warming up?

mornings, American River, wildlife, waterfowl, ducks, observation, quiet, peaceful, swim, riverbank, Fair Oaks BridgeDucks are the only quiet ones this morning. I watch pairs fly in and swim as they emerge from evening hiding places. Paying no attention to geese squabbles, they arrive without a sound and swim near the riverbank.

Music of Early Morning at Fair Oaks Bridge

Monday, April 15, 2019   52 degrees, 630 am

                        A cool wind blows under a dense blanket of clouds. Thin strips of sunlight shine through clouds.music, early morning, sunrise, American river, water, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, wildlife, beauty, scenic

Birds greet the morning with songs as they sit in nearby trees and later fly as groups in geometric patterns across the American River corridor. A single unseen pigeon coos. A lone rooster crows from Bridge Street. It walks on to the bridge searching for something to eat and continues to call its good morning song.

music, early mornings, rooster, chickens, chicks, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, Bridge Street

The rooster wanders the bridge deck and lingers on Bridge Street alone, while dozens of other chickens and roosters roam and crow in parks, streets, sidewalks and fence tops in Fair Oaks Village three blocks up the hill.

I wonder about the mother hen that used to search for breakfast and hide in bushes alongside the rooster. She was mother to five chicks, several months ago. As the chicks grew in size, I also saw fewer of them. Then there were two “adolescent” chicks with the mother hen and rooster – then one. Now the rooster is the only one prowling the street. I can only guess that predators ate them, one by one.

As I watch the glistening blue gray sky and the swirling speed of the river moving downstream, two Canada Geese raise their voices as they emerge from hiding in the riverbank and fly away. More geese are honking loudly in the distance on the western side of Fair Oaks Bridge. Few ducks have emerged yet this morning. The river feels empty. Two men stand on the riverbank to fish.

music, Canada Geese, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, boat launch ramp, beauty, scene, American River, honkDuring brief walks along the American River Parkway on Saturday and Sunday morning, birds crowded trees along the bicycle trail to sing good morning. Three Canada Geese arrived honking loudly, circling the bridge and the boat launch ramp and kept on honking for several minutes. I always wonder if they are arguing about where to land or where is the best place for breakfast?

Listen to geese as they circle the sky alongside Fair Oaks Bridge. Bird song recordings were too soft to be heard.

Fragrant Flowers and Bird Songs of Spring

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.

wildflowers, scent, beauty, Bridge Street, walk, breathe, Fair Oaks Village, Fair Oaks Bridge, morningI 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.

spider webs, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, observation, geometry, curious,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?

ducks, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, wildlife, watefowl, boat launch ramp, outdoor, natureI 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.

 

 

Wildlife Gather at Boat Launch Ramp

Friday, May 3, 2019, 7 am, 56 degrees

Soft sunlight glows through dense cloud cover. The air is chilled and heavy with moisture.

sunrise, morniing, Fair Oaks Bridge, nature, outdoors, writing, peace, beauty,shadows,

I hear Canada Geese honking while swimming in the American River as I arrive at Fair Oaks Bridge. The geese fly across the river calling to each other, land on the riverbank nearest the entrance to the bridge. They rise again to settle back down into the river, now joined by another pair of noisy Canada Geese.  I notice that all the spider webs have been torn apart by the wind. I walk downhill to the boat launch ramp.

The bike path and driveway in front of the ramp are the center of this mornings’ activity.

rooster, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, walk, nature, outdoors, writing, nature, peace, lonely, bicycle trail, noisyA squirrel dashes across the trail, while the resident rooster patrols the street. The rooster walks beside me at first then wanders the dirt alongside the pavement. As I walk toward the boat launch ramp, it rushes to stand beside me. His feet scratch the pavement and feathers swish. As I watch the wildlife at this intersection of driveway and bicycle trail, the rooster continues to shout to no one in particular, over and over again.

ducks waddle, bicycle trail, mornings, nature, outdoors, Fair Oaks Bridge, Boat launch rampThree ducks waddle down the center of the bicycle trail. Two Canada Geese wander in the dirt alongside.  As I return to Fair Oaks Bridge. I watch one Canada Goose sit at the top enjoying a sweeping view of the river.

 

 

Listening to the Sounds of Morning

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 7:40 am

Sunlight today is warm. No wind. Scattered white clouds stretch over the eastern sky like thick cotton batting. I stand and listen to the bird greet me with a song from the overhead truss of Fair Oaks Bridge.   I leave the bridge and take the short walk to the boat launch ramp. Five women walk ahead of me. Approaching the boat ramp, I see a family of Canada Geese. The goslings are already nearly full size and the characteristic black strip is growing on their long thin necks.

Canada Geese, boat ramp, American River, wings, river, morning, American RiverBirds twitter and rattle. I stay and watch the water, listen to the resident rooster who lives and patrols the area nearby the ramp. He calls out over and over again. Each time I visit the boat ramp and the rooster sees me, he rushes over to walk by side. He is a sad sight – tail feathers drooping, looking like several are missing. I walk slowly back to the bridge, listening to the sounds of the morning.

Cyclists speed past me and a few more people walk by. When I reach the bridge, I stop. I sit down on the deck and feel far away from the “busyness” of urban life. I sit and watch the glow of sunrise in the water. I watch the graceful flight of an Egret fly west under the bridge until I can no longer see it.

This is the time to settle my body and quiet my mind focus on the present moments at the river. I watch the ripples forming in the water as it moves downstream. Long lines form with soft curves flow downstream under the bridge. The curves bend and form circles and continue to swirl.

More cyclists and more walkers pass by. Some focus straight ahead more intent on their steps than the beauty and peace of the setting they are walking through. Some people are talking on their phones, while others are deep in conversation as they walk.

Mornings reflections looking at Fair Oaks Bluff

A car pulls into the round parking area in front of the boat ramp and stops. It pauses a few moments and then drives away. Many drivers and w visit the boat launch ramp to enjoy the view. I see them sitting still in their cars, not getting out. Just sitting still and looking out the windows. Walkers come and sit on the memorial bench that faces Fair Oaks Bluff. The Bluff is often referred to as the “Crown of the Parkway.” The steep cliffs eroded over millions of year and the sedimentary rock face clearly defines its history.

As I walk off the bridge, I hear the rooster continue to call out looking for a friend. Two Canada Geese paddle slowly through the water to the riverbank.

Birds Sing in Chorus

Saturday March 7, 2020   630 am

duck, rock, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, boat launch ramp, morning, nature, beauty, quiet, birds, busy
This morning the duck stands guard on the rock at the end of boat launch ramp. A very popular rest stop!

 

This morning was another busy day at Fair Oaks Bridge. A dozen geese flew in honking and circling. One landed on the concrete pillar. Didn’t stay long. Did not like being watched. The relentless quacking duck was there too. I could not see her. A chorus of birds sang in the trees behind the boat launch ramp for at least 10 minutes.

Suddenly, it got very quiet. I saw about 50 birds fly up and away out of the trees and over the bridge.