First Rain of Fall

Wednesday, October 3, 2018      730 am 64 degrees

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Standing on Fair Oaks Bridge at sunrise. Facing east in view of the Fair Oaks Bluff on left side of photo.

            So many birds flying around Fair Oaks Bridge this morning! Far more than any other morning. Birds fly quickly from one part of the bridge truss frame to another – twittering and flapping wings. “Ti Too. Ti Too. Ti Too!” I am close enough to see the birds open their wings and see a white circle underneath each one. Dozens of pigeons fly over and leave as quickly as they come.

             Densely cloudy sky as if a heavy cotton blanket hangs on an invisible clothesline in the sky. Along the lower edge, a thick golden streak of light shines at the tree line. On the west side of the bridge, clouds reflect their deep pink and white shapes in the river below. Only two boats out today. One motored around the bend. Six ducks swim out from the riverbank. Birds continue to sound their calls reminding me of a distant siren

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Clouds reflect in the American River west of the bridge, looking toward the Sunrise Blvd. crossing a few hundred yards away.

       The air is still, and feels heavy, sticky and warm. The scent of damp ash carries through the air – the smell after a fire is put out with water.

      In the late afternoon, these clouds released our first rain of the season – a heavy and unexpected downpour.

Dabbling for Breakfast

Saturday, October 13, 2018             730 am 56 degrees

       Fourteen fishing boats line the American River near the Fair Oaks Bridge. Twelve boats extend all the way around the river bend. The other two sit on the west side of the bridge. The deep green water is so still, there is hardly a ripple. In this cloudless deep blue sky, the sun glows like a brilliant yellow ball. I smell a faint, yet pungent odor.

So many fishermen and I have not seen any salmon jumping yet. Only two more weeks before fishing is banned until the end of the year. Have the salmon arrived yet?  I see one small fish floating next to the boat launch ramp this morning.

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Mallard morning meeting

     Birds are busy greeting the morning from their station at the highest point of the bridge. “Ti Too! Ti Too!” From another direction, I hear a bird singing like a calliope in short, shrill bursts. I hear only one duck quack yet this morning. Where is everyone?

  A dozen ducks were busy with their morning rituals in the river alongside the boat ramp. One was splashing itself to take a bath, another bobbing for breakfast. The others gathered in a morning meeting to quack, confer and squabble. “Where to eat?” I imagined them asking. A single seagull landed in the water alongside the Mallard. The gull looked frustrated “So where is the food hiding this year?”

A dabbling duck works hard for its breakfast.

Swimming in the Mist

Friday December 7, 2018 710 am, 38 degrees

Chickens are quiet in Fair Oaks parks. None of them are out searching for food on Bridge Street. Birds whistle and chirp, hidden in trees near Fair Oaks Bridge. Ice clings loosely to the car windshield. I wear my hooded jacket, leggings and gloves.

misty morning, mist, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, wildlife, nature, writing, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, outdoor, peaceful, quiet,Heavy mist hangs in the air as if suspended by invisible wires. The blanket of mist begins behind a curve in the river corridor at far right of photo. Ducks create their own wake as they swim in the still water. I hear the call of a seagull in the distance. So few of them are watching and waiting near the boat launch ramp. I have seen far less salmon this year than last year or the year before.

I watch the mist cloud roll slowly forward along the surface as waves gently cover the shoreline at a beach.

Thin strips of golden clouds line the sky just above the emerging yellow sun. Bridge deck is dry even though the air is filled with moisture.  Strips of water crossing the deck marking the site of upright posts is the only clue of moisture in the air. A dozen cyclists pass by. No walkers. I walk to the boat launch ramp to enjoy a closer view of the ducks and random seagulls flying in.

seagull, boat launch ramp, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, nature, outdoors, water, misty morrningsOne seagull stands alone on a rock next to the ramp. It calls out and I imagine it saying, Where is everyone? Where is the food? Two seagulls circle overhead and vanish. 

Buffleheads, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, mist, swim, nature, I see a Bufflehead swimming in the center of the river. Then three appear, swimming together in the swirling mist. Another bird calls. Scattered clouds in the eastern sky form the shape of a cyclone in the sky on this peaceful morning.

Sunrises on American River

Images taken standing on Fair Oaks Bridge of sunrise and sunset over Fair Oaks Bluff.

So many beautiful scenes, watching the sunrise, listening to birds sing and roosters call.  In these images, look for the duck cloud flying through the sky. Canada Geese fly over Fair Oaks Bridge. Brilliant colored streaks line the sky at sunrise and clouds above reflect in the river. Sunset over the Sunrise Blvd. river crossing looks like fire in the sky.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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