I take a lot of photos walking and cycling along the American River Parkway. Here is a sampling of what I found in the past week that did not fit into other blog posts.
Thursday, January 18, 2018, 705 am 49 degrees
Fair Oaks Village parks and neighboring streets become the daily setting for a rousing morning symphony led and conducted by resident chickens – all still in hiding for the night. I stood beneath one “singing tree” for several minutes listening to their good morning songs. I see a chicken standing in the shadows of darkness, tangled in tree branches, adding its voice to the chorus.
Heavy fog this morning and biting cold. Two Canada Geese zoom in from the east over Fair Oaks Bridge, loudly honking and honking. I hear them coming in the distance and they suddenly appear out of the fog. I catch a quick photo as they fly over.
Two more Canada Geese zoom in from the east honking loudly, as if they are engaged in an intense conversation. I wish I understood “goose speak.”
Maybe they are discussing directions or where to land. They make a quick U-turn, fly under the bridge and land with a splash near the boat launch ramp.
Ducks hide in shadows of reeds near the shore. Sun is hiding behind a thick curtain of fog. The air is bitter cold. A Bufflehead appears in the middle of the river, dunking and reappearing as it searches for breakfast in the deepest part of the American River. Four Canada Geese swim quietly. As runners, cyclists and walkers pass by I hear a “tap, tap, tap” on the bridge and then it stops. The rumble of traffic on the Sunrise Boulevard bridge carries in the wind. I look to the shoreline and notice many trees bent over so far, they are brushing the river, yet the remains of their roots are still attached.
I wonder where are the turtles? Haven’t seen any in months.
I must be too late or looking in the wrong sites for the beavers and the otters. The Mallards are always here. No spider webs today on the bridge rails. No spiders anywhere. Where are they hiding?
Today I brought a few slices of bread to feed the ducks and they rush over anxious to eat. The Muscovy duck stands alone. All waterfowl keep a 10-foot distance. When I move quickly or walk closer to them, everyone flaps their wings in unison, flies up and heads for the safety of the river. More Canada Geese fly over the river. A lonely seagull flies in squealing. After a soft landing, the gull looks around. “Where is the food?”
As I begin walking back up the ramp to the parking lot, I hear the distinctive chortle of a Great Blue Heron as it flies along the opposite shore and then disappears into the fog. Even on clear day, the Heron is difficult to follow because its blue gray colors blend seamlessly into the hillside. An Egret makes its occasional appearance and flies past the boat ramp to hide in bushes upstream.
I marvel at every sighting of these impressive birds – especially intrigued at how much the Egret avoids contact with the Great Blue Heron and all other shorebirds.
Many days I have watched ducks dunking for food and swimming leisurely in the river in front of me. I look to the opposite shore and see the Egret perched on a rock alone patrolling for its own snacks.
Monday, June 3, 2018 7 am
Morning begins with hearing the calls of a single chicken hidden in bushes on Bridge Street. It repeats every 2-3 minutes reminding me it is still there, calling to anyone to hear. American river is quiet except for the sound of birds greeting the new day. A fisherman floats in his boat on the sparkling water. Pigeons walk the upper frame of Fair Oaks Bridge guarding their territory. The sky is pale blue without even a wisp of clouds.
I notice a dozen intricately woven spider webs clinging to the sides of Fair Oaks Bridge. Dozens of tiny insects lay trapped inside. Their fates sealed by sticky webs. Besides a dozen pigeons arriving at the bridge, the spiders are the only creatures I see moving this morning.
I continue to wonder how spiders acquire such precise weaving skills. Are they born with internal maps? Where do they begin to weave? How do they measure the length of each strand and intersecting line? Do they view their handiwork from a distance to see their progress?
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So many cloud formations grace the sky. Photos taken over several days in mid February.
I see ribbon candy and finely woven blankets in the sky. Other cloud formations create stunning backdrops for sunrises and beautiful days to enjoy the beauty of the American River.