The Scavengers

Monday, June 26, 2017   730 am 61 degrees

I approach Fair Oaks Village hoping to hear the morning serenade of resident chickens. Not today. A few  chickens wander quietly through the street.

Arriving at Fair Oaks Bridge, I feel a slight, cool breeze. The sun already sits high into the sky throwing intense heat. The sky is filled with white, puffy clouds. Half dozen pigeons circle the bridge for their morning ritual before resting on the bridge frame overhead. In an instant, the pigeons fly to the boat launch ramp nearby. The river sparkles, yet it is empty.

ducklings, Canada Geese, scavenger, boat launch ramp, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, American River, American River ParkwayMany of the Mallards and Canada Geese scour the rocky edge of the American River at Jim’s Bridge or other points farther west. When one duck sees food thrown into the air, soon two or four at a time, they all show up to snatch a free meal.

Egrets and Great Blue Herons remain absent from the former morning stations. They have moved to where they can find food.

Spider webs stretch across the bridge vertical rails as they always do. A few walkers and cyclists pass. Today, the river at Fair Oaks Bridge is so still and clear, I can see small, round rocks sitting on the bottom. As I sit watching the water, a lone Canada Goose floats by on the water. I walk down to the boat launch ramp to get a closer look of the morning activity and see half dozen geese approach me. Canada Geese are always looking for a handout. I tear up bits of lettuce and toss them on the ramp. They sniff, take a taste and walk away. They quietly begin morning cleaning rituals, scavenge the ground for food and shortly afterwards swim away. The river is empty once again.


Quacking in Harmony

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.

flood, American River, trail, walk, scenic, water