Be part of the experience when light rain falls on the American River. What is the song of the rain? What is the scent it carries? Hear ducks as they play at the river.
Wednesday September 28, 2016, 9 am
Mornings on Fair Oaks Bridge or American River Parkway create a foundation to begin my day. I arrive late today, at 9 am. The Fair Oaks Village neighborhood is fully awake. My walks usually pass through quiet streets at 630 or 7am. Now they are filled with rushing cars. A pickup truck appears from a side street and sputters off. Roosters quiet, except for an occasional call to grab attention. They have emerged from the trees and walk the park looking for breakfast. A few early morning fishermen are still in their boats.
I enjoy learning the patterns of the morning – the fishermen are always first before dawn! Ducks emerge next. The pigeons arrive flying in their circle dance, then the smaller birds greet me from the top of the bridge. Geese sleep late and most of them arrive long after the ducks have already finished their morning grooming. Egrets keep themselves hidden. It is a gift to see one or two arrive later in the morning.
Why do pigeons settle on one side of the bridge? Is it warmer there?
Cyclists arrive at 630 wearing headlamps and continue crossing the bridge all day long. Some carrying backpacks commuting to work. Some dressed in cycling attire out for pleasure or training rides. The walkers come by 7 am. Walkers with dogs are always out for early morning walks.Read more
Canada Geese and ducks are especially noisy this morning near the bridge! One female duck is very agitated and will not be quiet. It is morning pandemonium!
Friday, October 7, 2016, 630 am, 50 degrees
When I left home, the air temperature was 50 degrees and the morning light was emerging from the east. By the time I park my car, the temperature had dropped to 49. Mist covered my car windows. Sunrise is scattered pinks and oranges as the sun shines through scattered clouds.
So far the roosters crowing to wake up the day are the only living creatures I see moving. No cars or people moving.
Sunday, April 30, 2017 9:30 am
Water is flowing fast and flooding the sandy banks, rocks and other land forms where people usually sit and picnic.
During the summer I can sit on a rock and dangle my feet into shallow water to cool off. More water will come as melted snow rushes down navigates through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the American River.
To my far left, I catch a quick glance at a family of Canada Geese emerging from the rocks and walking into a quiet, shallow area between rocks for a swim. Nine tiny goslings and their parents. My first sighting of babies this year! On my ride back home, I see a skinny little snake about 12” long in the middle of the bike path. I dragged it to the dirt and the back half of its body wriggled and curved. The top half was still. I think it was near death. I let it lay in peace.Read more
Thursday May 25, 2017 7 am 57 degrees
Walking through Fair Oaks Village today, all the chickens are silent except for one.
One solo chicken hides in a tree on my way to the Fair Oaks Bridge. It calls every five seconds, over and over and over again. I hear its faint call from the bridge some 100 yards away.
“Where is everyone?” “I am awake!”
Dense clouds float above my head. It is a chilly and windy morning. I have already seen half dozen cyclists and several walkers. A lone boater was in the water and more preparing to enter the river. The water is calm. Pigeons coo as they straddle the upper bridge frame. Parts of the bridge are covered in spider webs blown apart by winds.
Even after 20 minutes of standing on the bridge, I still hear the chickens calling and the music of birds singing while hidden in nearby trees. Three ducks play in the water at the end of the boat ramp. I hear the distant honk of a single Canada Goose and see it fly under the bridge and continue its west facing flight. Pigeons are the only ones flying this morning. I watch a new family of Canada geese swim over to the riverbank, climb up and disappear into the shrubbery. The rocks are laid bare after the severe flooding washed away so many hiding places.Read more
Saturday, July 22, 2017 7 am 68 degrees
I hear what sounds like a foghorn repeated three times as I sit on Fair Oaks Bridge. What is that sound? Where is it coming from?
At Jim’s Bridge a few ducks are swimming and scavenging. I pass them by and ride on to the boat launch ramp where all is quiet. One woman stands in a boat in the middle of the river channel and casts her fishing line. Birds are calling their morning song, even though I cannot see even one. I hear a chorus of tweets and rattles. Pigeons roost on Fair Oaks Bridge.
One Mallard approaches me waiting to receive handfuls of breakfast treats. As it poses for me and waits for a bite to eat, we both hear a quack in the distance. The duck raises it neck and listens for the sound. After a few minutes of waiting for me to throw food and discovering, I have none to give, the duck wanders back into the water.
Another day at the river without even a strip of white clouds in the sky. Looking carefully, I see faint wisps of white, as if an artist used a very dry brush on a pale blue canvas. I hear a chicken call from the distance. The calm waters enhance this peaceful scene. Out of the quiet, a cyclist at high speed races by, rumbling across the bridge deck as he passes.
Half dozen Canada Geese patrol a distant shore. Still no Egrets. No Great Blue Heron. I search for them every time I come and they must have gone elsewhere where food supply is plentiful. No turtles today hanging out on a branch to sunbathe.
I hear a persistent cough coming from an unseen person hiding on the riverbank directly under the bridge. I have heard these coughs several times during morning visits to the bridge and rarely see the source.
The sun is high in the sky. The morning temperature is still cool. I ride west on the American River Parkway to my usual morning stopping point – a picnic bench on a bluff overlooking sandbars on the river. No waterfowl there. No cyclists on the bike trail yet.
On my ride home I look for the tall and long dead tree where woodpecker families call home. I see a family of four flying from one branch to another, sitting, drumming, joining others, flying off again, sitting in a line. I focus in for a photo and they fly away again.
Sunday, January 14, 2018 740 am, 47 degrees
As I approach Fair Oaks Bridge this morning, the only sounds I hear are my own footsteps, a few random chicken greetings and songs from birds still hidden from view.
Given the degree of mist hanging in the air and the chilly temperature, I expected to see fog covering all views on the bridge. High clouds and distant fog hung suspended over the hills. The American River was clear and without any of the characteristic mist rolling downstream I have seen so many other mornings.
Two men launch a fishing boat. I hear Canada Geese honking approach from the east. They are invisible until within 20 yards of the bridge. Then they fly over so fast there is no time to capture them in a photo. All four of them land softly in the river on the west side of the bridge at precisely the same moment and glide downstream. Loud honking continues as others join the chorus. The sounds carry half mile in the still air.
On the east side of the bridge, near the boat launch ramp, one duck begins to complain. “Quack! Quack! Quack!” The chatter goes on and on without end. I am barraged by sounds of wildlife as I stand on the bridge. See video below.
Canada Geese are honking on the west side of Fair Oaks Bridge and ducks are quacking at the boat launch ramp on the east side. Morning pandemonium!
I notice two dead salmon lay still in the river. No birds approach to eat them. I walk to the boat launch ramp intent on seeing the very agitated duck. Forty runners training for a marathon cross in front of me on the American River bike trail. Several cyclists quickly approaching from behind followed runners. A busy morning!
Two male Mallards and two females swim in the river near the boat launch ramp. One female is very upset and starts quacking again. She does not stop. Two minutes later, she has not taken a breath. She continues. As she swims, she is close enough that I can watch her beak open and close, open and close. The three males swimming nearby pay no attention. I wonder what could have upset her to prompt such a one-sided conversation?
I stay and listen and watch. She continues her casual swim and squawks for another 10 minutes without stopping for more than a few seconds. I still hear the distant call of Canada Geese. As the four Mallards swim away, the only visible duck left is a Bufflehead in the center of the river, diving for breakfast. Staying underwater for a half minute before surfacing – and then doing it all again.
Today is a bitter cold, wet and very noisy morning!