Waterfowl Walk and Ski

Wednesday September 21, 2016, 7 am

Clouds cover the sky. Raindrops fall on my windshield. In the 10 minutes it takes for me to walk to the river, the sky has already brightened. The raindrops that fall on the bridge quickly evaporate. I feel a cool breeze blow against my face. This is the first moisture of late summer and in a few minutes the drizzle has passed.clouds, bridge, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, morning, American River

Roosters wake up the neighborhood with their calls – one crowing and another responds. Far fewer roosters are awake. Maybe the chill has kept them hiding in trees a little longer?

I know the morning sun has risen over the trees. Yet I cannot see it today hidden behind dense cloud cover.Read more

Fish Ladder Opens!

 Sunday, November 6, 2016, 11 am

seagulls, salmon, American River, Nimbus Fish HatcheryAs I arrive on my bike at the Fair Oaks Bridge, I see a flock of 50 seagulls gather on the north side of the river. More fly in to join them.

Seagulls gather at two prime locations along the river waiting for their chance to nibble on remnants of salmon after spawning. Turkey vultures circle overhead. All looking for salmon.

The river’s resident egret flies in, squawks and lands on the smooth riverbank searching for food. The wildlife living at the American River are left alone with no fishing allowed. A few salmon jump and splash down. A warm day for riding, despite the cloud cover.

I wonder is the fish ladder open yet? I ride to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to find out. Yes! Salmon have returned home. Salmon are leaping into the ladder from the open gate. A group of salmon all already crowding the holding tank at the top of the fish ladder – the last stop before salmon move into the hatchery for spawning. Crowds of people line the fish ladder to watch each salmon leap each one level upward and capture the moments in photos.Read more

New Visitors to the River

Thursday December 1, 2016   8:25 am 42 degrees

The sun is high in the sky and white puffy clouds sit along the top edges of distant trees. On my way to the bridge, I see two squirrels playing hide and seek as they dance in circles around a palm tree at the curb. Their sharp claws gripped the jagged trunk. I hear so much chatter from the tree to my left as I walk on to the bridge. Small birds chirp, flap and fly from branch to branch.

A squirrel darts up and down the trunk. I have seen this squirrel-bird conflict in other trees and I wonder if they are naturally unfriendly to each other? Are the birds defending their tree? Are they demanding the squirrel stop shaking the branches as it searches for acorns?Read more

Seagulls Soar, Ducks Swim

Saturday, December 3, 2016 6:35 am 36 degrees

bats, flying, Fair Oaks, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, Buffleheae
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I look to the sky and see a long, black line flying quietly in the sky. Wondering if I am looking at bats flying out from the bridge? Looks like 100s of them are flying above me.

Roosters are active this morning, singing their song from the trees. I am the first one out. I see no one on the way to the bridge. The air is icy cold. A runner jogs past me dressed in his warm ups, jacket and cap. Read more

Wildlife Returns to the River

Friday, March 3,  645 am 41 degrees

The American River is quiet once again after one of the wettest winters in 20 years.

Birds are twittering in distant trees. The entire boat launch ramp is visible, except for a wide strip of mud stretched across it. The sun rises behind thin, white streaks of clouds. I see a cyclist and a pair of walkers this morning out even earlier than I am.

pigeons, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, wildlife returnsAs I walk to the bridge, I wonder what wildlife has returned to this part of the river.  Half dozen pigeons fly in circles over the bridge three times before deciding to settle down on the overhead frame. One flies down and wanders the bridge deck to be joined later by a second pigeon.

As I look out to the water, searching for wildlife, I hear Canada Geese honking immediately behind me. I turn around to see them sitting on a round cement support leg of the bridge (outside the upright bars), discussing what to do next. An instant later, they fly into the sky still engaged in conversation. Next I check for spider webs attached to the bridge and see several perfectly spun webs, no spider to be found.Read more

A Wild Day at the American River

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.
American River
This part of the river is called San Juan Rapids because this area is very rocky and usually fairly shallow. Water is always moving swiftly here. Today, far faster and deeper than any other time.

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