Watching Wildlife

Saturday, October 22, 2016

As I approach the bridge this late afternoon, a large family poses for photos using the bridge and river as a scenic backdrop. The young women spend more of their time running after the littlest ones who are far more interested in running across the bridge, and petting dogs walking with their owners.

The sun hides behind a dense cloud cover. Fishermen in boats are waiting, kayaks launch and children enjoy feeding ducks on the boat launch ramp. Other people stand on the bridge watching the fisherman.

The evening always brings out people to enjoy the river and watch wildlife, boats and the setting sun from the bridge.

A few years ago various groups and individuals regularly enjoyed picnics on the bridge to sit and watch the moon rise and the sun set. I rarely see people picnic on the bridge. Many walkers, very few “sitters.”

woodpeckerRiding along the parkway this afternoon, I heard the distinctive sound of a woodpecker working in a nearby tree and stopped to watch. We may call it pecking. Officially, woodpeckers “drum.”  I watched the woodpecker at work near the top of the tree for several minutes until it decided to fly across the road to another tree.Read more

Waterfowl and Birds Soar Over the River

 October 25, 2016 – part two, 11 am, 68 degrees

Drizzle rain stops and starts again. Still very few people outside at 11 am. A warm rain. River is very quiet with cloudy skies and no rain. Ducks search the river for food, wings flap. Faint quacks. Canada geese change position and fly away. A cloudy sky and all is quiet. Boaters sit calmly in the water. The gentle, nourishing rain is a refreshing and welcome change.

Earlier boaters in their rain jackets have sped away heading east toward the weir positioned at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery where the salmon converge to spawn – either in the river or inside the hatchery. Birds patrol the sky. Turkey vultures wait patiently, ready to pounce on whatever has died. I find salmon heads cast off into the rocks. Soon these remains will be consumed by hungry turkey vultures, seagull or other wildlife that find them first.

ducks, American River, raindropsCanada Geese, pigeons, boat launch ramp, American River, Fair Oaks, mornings







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Anxious Seagulls Wait at the River

Friday, September 7, 2018   1030 am 91 degrees

American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, salmon, seagulls, Turkey Vultures

As we moved farther into September, we are getting close to the arrival of our fall run of Chinook Salmon.

The river runs especially low as the weir is being installed in the river at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. The normally shallow area, I have often described as “the narrows” in previous blogs, is more rocks than water today. The rocky area pictured is a short walk from Fair Oaks Bridge.

How things will change in a month! Salmon will be swimming upriver to spawn, jumping and splashing through the narrow area.

Visitors are likely to  see a dozen salmon swim through in less than an hour. Seagulls, Turkey Vultures, Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Cormorants and ducks will all be watching for their turn to enjoy a salmon lunch or dinner.

I continue my bike ride on the Parkway until I reach the long paved path that veers off the bike trail and ends at the river. The island pictured attracts 100 seagulls and a dozen Turkey Vultures during the peak of salmon spawning.

salmon, seagulls, American River


I have often seen people wandering on the other side of the river with no idea how they get there. I recently walked with a Meetup group to Sailor’s Bar. For the first time, I saw the river from the other side. Sailor’s Bar is another  beautiful series of easy walks around a large pond with access to the river.



Twenty seagulls are already waiting anxiously for salmon to arrive. For now, they float lazily on the water. Some fly to change their position. Turkey vultures patrol the island. I see these large birds flying across the sky and settling in trees on every walk along the river.

Active Morning on the River

Saturday, September 29, 2018   56 degrees   735 am

active, Fair Oaks, chickens, Fair Oaks Bridge, Bridge Street, mornings, Two fluffy chickens look for food on Bridge Street.

Walking on Fair Oaks Bridge, clouds blanket the sky and the only light is a long, thin strip directly above distant treetops. River is calm and deep green.

Lots of activity this morning! Standing on the bridge, I watch clouds change from a gray blanket to snow white puffs, as the wind stretches them apart to reveal a deep blue backing underneath. Three ducks come out for a swim and approach where the boats sit.

As I prepared to take photos of the morning scene, I was surprised to see clouds reflecting in the water – seen only through my camera lens.

clouds, active, reflections, American River, American River Parkway, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, water, river, nature, outdoors, writing, photos, wildlife

Walking to the boat launch ramp, rafters and boaters who arrived as early as 530 am prepare to leave the river while others are just now arriving. Pick up trucks and boat trailers line the parking lot. Several ducks next to the riverbank engage in their morning routines: cleaning, dunking for food, and watching the river. Turkey Vultures patrol the sky over Fair Oaks Bluff. Two-dozen pigeons circle the sky east of Fair Oaks Bridge. I do not see any of them land. They circle and vanish.

Great Blue Heron, active, wildlife, mornings, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, nature, wildlife, American River, American River Parkway, outdoorsI hear a chortle to my left and know a Great Blue Heron has flown in. It poses on the rock on the left side of the boat ramp long enough for me to snap a few photos. Then it sounds another call, extends its large wings and glides slowly over the river, past the ducks and vanishes further upriver.