The Boat launch ramp near Fair Oaks Bridge is an ideal site to watch Mallards and Canada Geese begin their mornings – eating and socializing. Are bobbing heads the way to say “Good Morning” in duck speak?
Some mornings are far busier than others. Other visitors tell me they have seen a beaver busily stripping the meat from a salmon, an otter family on a leisurely early morning swim and a wayward seal found its way up river.
As I enter Fair Oaks Village this morning, I stop the car to wait for a chicken to cross the street and join a friend in the center median.Chickens are calling from all parts of the Village. I see them in parking lots, on streets and hiding near bushes.
A cool morning wind feels refreshing after a long and hot day. Glowing, hot yellow sun and a brilliant blue sky. No clouds anywhere.
I see a kayak launch into the water and watch the driver inside pressing foot pedals to move his craft around the river. The boat is filled with three people, a large bucket and other fishing equipment. Fishermen in their boats take positions in the American River for a morning of fishing.
Water level of the river continues to be slightly higher than a week ago. The river channel is relatively flat at Fair Oaks Bridge, so the water remains calm. A pair of ducks fly in and land with a splash out of sight under the bridge. Joggers and walkers pass – alone and in pairs. No one pauses to look over either side of Fair Oaks Bridge to enjoy the scenic views.
A tiny bird greets me with its good morning song. “Ti Too! Ti Too!” as it stands at the top of the bridge truss looking down at me. I see no Buffleheads swimming and searching for breakfast. I can’t remember when I saw them last. When did they leave?
A dozen spider webs stretch across the bridge rails ranging in size from 9” across to a more compact 2”.
I rarely see spider webs hanging on the west side of Fair Oaks Bridge. Why do spiders spin their webs on the east side of the bridge and not the west?
Could web placement be related to the sun’s position in the sky? Is web construction related to where the shadows fall or the temperature of a specific place? Do insects prefer to fly about on the east side and not the west?
A loud fog horn blows. Long, loud and mysterious. What is that sound? Where does it come from? Few ducks are swimming. I wonder about the female Mallard who I heard quack relentlessly every visit in January and February. Where is she? Did she have ducklings?How can I even recognize her if she swims by me?
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.
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.
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.
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?
A 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.