Watching Wildlife Wake Up

Sunday, September 18, 2016   635 am

American River, American River Parkway, Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, Sacramento, Sacramento County, American River Parkway, scenic, trails, waterWhen 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

Cyclists, Walkers and Wildlife Meet

Monday, September 19, 2016  7 am

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.

Great Blue Heron, egret, roosters, wildlife, waterfowl, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, waterThe 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

Seeking Peaceful Comfort on Saturday Morning

  Saturday, September 24, 2016, 7 am, 55 degrees

Fair Oaks, Fair oaks Bridge American River, water, sunrise, mornings, American RiverThe 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

Some Bridge Visitors Show No Respect

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 7 am, 55 degrees

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.

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Great Day for a Leisurely Swim or Dip!

  Monday, October 3, 2016, 6 pm, 70 degrees

The sky is covered with what looks like strips of pale blue and white cotton candy. At 6 pm, no sun to be found. The air feels cool and I wear my zip up hooded sweatshirt.

No birds are out. A few ducks are out for a leisurely swim. I hear splashes in the water and look to the sound and see rings of concentric circles. Must have been a salmon jumped out and dove back in quickly. Since my last visit I see that rain has fallen on the bridge. The intricate networks of spider webs and flytraps are washed clean away off the bridge upright and cross beams. Not a trace is left. The air is heavy with the scent of moist dirt, yet clean and refreshed by gentle rain.

ducks, swim, swimming, American River, Fair Oaks BridgeTwo boats and a kayak sit in the water. A few cyclists pass and some walkers out for a evening stretch before sunset. I walk to the boat launch ramp and the ducks see me coming. Today I have no bread to throw.

A dozen ducks gather and walk up the ramp and wait. They look at me impatiently as if to say, “Where is the food?”

After a few minutes when they realize no food is coming, they all retreat back into the water. In minutes some have disappeared to hiding places on either side of the ramp. The dabblers decide to find food on their own.Read more

Chilly Mornings, Shorter Days and Beautiful Sunrises

    Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 635 am

Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, sunrise, morning, colors, pinkClouds that blanketed the sky last night are gone. A few scattered brush strokes of color hang in the sky glowing with morning light as the sun rises behind them.

I left home at 635 and see brightness to the west just now rising over neighboring trees. Streets are dark. My car windshield is covered with drops from misty air. I wear my hooded sweatshirt again this morning, long pants and warm socks. This morning’s temperature is 51 degrees. I drive with headlights into the Village. In the 10 minutes it takes me to reach the bridge, the sky is bright and daylight fills the sky. All traces of night have vanished.Read more

So Much of Nature’s Beauty!

   Sunday, October 9, 2016, 8:40 am

This morning I ride to the Fair Oaks Bridge, waiting until 8:40 when the day warms up a little more. The air blows cold against my face and I wear long riding pants and a sweatshirt. Boats are abundant this morning – nine on the west side of the bridge and three more on the east side. Seagulls are still on watch.

river1, American River, Fair Oaks, salmon, ducks, fisherman, nature,beauty Today I ride east – toward the Nimbus Fish Hatchery – on the Jedediah Smith memorial Trail that lies within the American River ParkwayA beautiful day to be at the river!

The photo shows the river as a silent pool in the foreground and fast moving rapids in the background divided by a narrow wall of rocks. Fishermen stand on the opposite riverbank – as they do many days this time of year when the salmon return home.

I wonder how many different species of wildlife – birds, waterfowl and insects live along this river? I have seen snakes, coyotes, wild turkeys, squirrels, deer and rabbits.

Fair Oaks bridge is home to both spiders and pigeons. Roosters hide in trees in Fair Oaks Village and on the banks of the river.  I keep searching the trees to find the singing roosters.  Haven’t find them yet.

Fallen logs are great places to hide. Still looking for the river otter family that lives near the fallen log near the bridge.  I can only guess that the river with its varying depths is home to frogs and crabs in addition to the ducks and Canada Geese I see daily.  Several places along the river, islands sit in the middle as a resting place for ducks and geese.  The birds and the fisherman know the shallow areas of the river lined with gravel are ideal spawning beds for Chinook Salmon.

Hundreds of cyclists and dozens of walkers are on the trail today. A line of six inline skaters roll past me.

So many sights, sounds and discoveries on this short section of the 33-mile long trail.

Busy Morning for Salmon Fishermen

Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 6:30 am, 52 degrees

Leaving my house in clouded darkness, the air is filled with moisture. Water drips down my car’s windows and continues to collect after wiping them dry. Fog fills the windows as I drive in the emerging dawn toward the bridge this morning. This is my coolest morning so far. Roosters hide in their nighttime roosts, begin their morning music and suddenly stop.

I pass a large tub covered with a blanket left out on the street near the bridge. Where did this come from? As I approach the bridge in the darkness, I see a large shape settled on the bridge. As I get closer, this shape is a person bundled in a sleeping bag with suitcases and other belongings in a pile. In all my mornings on the bridge, this is the first time to see anyone sleeping on it.Read more

Great Blue Heron Meets Flight of Canada Geese

American River, sunrise, mist, morning, wildlife, Great Blue Heron, Canada GeeseWednesday, October 26, 2016, 710 am, 54 degrees

By the time I park the car, daylight has filled the sky and clouds are gone – all except a few random patches and streaks.  Have not seen the moon from the bridge for many days. Each morning there is so much cloud cover. There is no moon  today.

It is cool and misty outside. I wear a warm, hooded sweatshirt. My car windows are fogged – as they are every morning. I wipe the windows before leaving home and turn on the defroster.

On my walk to the bridge, I am welcomed by the morning concert from roosters in their usual places – hiding in trees. For the unaware visitor, it appears that trees talk. Without shaking a leaf, the roosters perch on a branch and sing. One lonely and very scrawny chicken emerges from a side street and sings a scratchy song for anyone to hear.Read more

Peaceful Morning

Thursday August 10, 2017   715 am  68 degrees

Arrived at Jim’s Bridge by bike – no waterfowl. The water glistens, yet feels empty.

My next stop is the boat launch ramp where I see a dozen Mallards on patrol searching for breakfast on the ramp. They look up and see me and begin to walk toward me. Since I don’t make any throwing motions with food in my hand, they turn around and retreat back down the ramp into the water.

American River, fishing, Fair Oaks Bridge, ducks, morningA solo fishing boat carries two people, waiting. The river is especially beautiful this morning. Many weeks since I saw the water shimmer with various shades of greens and gold, reflecting the trees and the sunlight.

Ahhh! The magic of morning.

Six pigeons fly to their place on the Fair Oaks Bridge frame. The air is chilled. A gentle and cool breeze blows against my skin. When I left this morning, my arms were chilled and the car windshield was moist. I have noticed that sunrise is much closer to 6 am than 5, as it was for so many weeks during the summer.

I missed many evening bike rides because of so many 105 degree days that did not cool enough in the evening to make it possible for me to enjoy the long hours of daylight.

No clouds in the sky. A pale white moon hangs in the pale, western sky tinged with gray. Pigeons feast on remains of a biscuit left on the bridge. At the slightest movement or sound, they flap their wings unison and fly away and return a minute later to continue their meal. Off again and back until they have eaten every crumb they can find.

200 yards to the east, a single fisherman stands at the river’s edge waiting. Canada Geese have yet to arrive. They tend to be the late sleepers and the grumpiest when it comes to getting their share of breakfast. Ducks went back into hiding. Where are the otter? The turtles? P

American River, salmon, seagulls, Fair Oaks, fishing, morniingFor now, the American River is a quiet place.

In little more than a month, salmon will begin their arrival and fishing boats will multiply by at least five. The river will be standing room only for fisherman standing hip deep in water. I hope seagulls return to feast on the salmon. Maybe the Egret and the Great Blue Heron will return. Salmon provides food for many wildlife here.

I miss the Egrets and Great Blue Heron.

What a delight to see them fly in, walking gingerly at the shoreline looking food and do their best to avoid each other! Not since the flood. They have moved somewhere else along the American River.

What of the snowmelt from the Sierra? When will it come? And how much, how fast? I wonder how the American River will be challenged this fall. Too soon to think of another winter. Standing on the Fair Oaks Bridge, a few runners pass, an occasional cyclist. Today is a slow and peaceful morning on the river. The hum of traffic on Sunrise Blvd. bridge is all I hear.

Riding to the San Juan Rapids overlook I see the water level has receded so the sandbars are visible, and the rapids mild. No rafters come by on this early weekday. No waterfowl are spending a leisurely morning on the sandbar. The Cormorant I spotted several times before is absent – as are all the wildlife of the river.

Canada Geese, riverbank, American River, morningI return to Jim’s Bridge on my ride home and see two women feeding dozens of resident geese and ducks. With very quacks or honks, they quickly gobbled up the seeds, still scavenging long after the women had left. The feeding time, as always, is filled with scratch, hiss, race, waddle, and wait.

Fair Oaks Bridge and Jim’s Bridge sit less than a mile apart to provide access to the American River Parkway. Both are quiet hideaways to escape the rush of the city and enjoy the peacefulness of the river.