Canada Geese Argue over Territory

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 710 am, 41 degrees

Entering the bridge, I look around and wonder where are the pigeons? I cannot remember the last time a dozen of them were perched on the overhead bridge truss to rest. Today I hear one coo and see none. Pigeons have always been the first birds to arrive, dancing in the sky, circling several times over the bridge before landing.

Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, nature, birds, observation, writing, outdoorsThe tiny bird that greets me with Ti Too! sits long enough for me to hear its call and then flies away. It always sings from the highest part of the bridge frame.

Not a single spider web stretches across the bridge side rails. I wonder where have the spiders gone?

Grass still grows through the deck boards. A duck flies solo under the bridge, as two airplanes let out a jet trail of smoke behind them as if they are drawing a long, then stripe on a blue chalkboard in the sky. A few runners pass, people walking their dogs and two cyclists speed by. The morning is so quiet I  hear the sound of a vehicle driving over the gravel in the boat ramp parking lot. The air is chilly with no breeze. Occasionally I see my breath float above me into the air. The sky is pale blue without no clouds. Far different from the day before when white stripes, tinged with gold crossed the sky.

mist, sunrise, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, write, nature, observe, outdoorsSun is just emerging over the trees behind the boat ramp. As it rises, a thin and puffy blanket of orange mist appears around the bend in the river and rolls slowly along the surface of the water.

Standing at the boat launch ramp, I to see a group of eight ducks swimming toward the ramp. Suddenly most of them dive and disappear. They reappear, and as if they were on cue, rise up at precisely the same moment, flying low and swift to disappear around the river bend. One lone Canada Goose stands at the foot of the ramp, watching, waiting, or maybe wondering.

When I walk back on the bridge, I see a goose standing on the top of the truss. Rare to see waterfowl fly and rest on the top. I walk further and there is a goose resting on a pier. However, it makes a quick exit when two other loudly honking geese arrive and land on the pier and rest comfortably. Apparently, the pier is not big enough for three.

Canada Goose, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, outdoors, nature, observation, write, beauty, TrussCanada Geese, Fair Oaks Bridge, pier, American River, mornings, nature, outdoors, beauty,

Two geese on the pillar continue to whisper. I wonder what they could be thinking about the conflict at the riverbank from their vantage point?

Eight Canada Geese arguing over territory shatter the silent morning. On the south riverbank, geese are honking and flapping wings and chasing the intruding geese away – first off a small spot of land and then shooing them away in the river. This continues until the geese split up. Some stand on the riverbank. Others swim alone in the river.

The sun sits far above the trees now. All hint of mist on the river has vanished. More ducks have come to dunk and search for breakfast. The two Canada Geese on the pier stand quietly, engaging in morning cleaning rituals, watching, resting and enjoying a panoramic river of the American River.

First Day of Spring

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 715 am, 50 degrees

This morning – our first day of Spring – a gentle mist falls on Fair Oaks Bridge. Clouds glow bright white on the east side where pockets of sunlight shine through.

American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, water, nature, outdoors, writing, beauty, sunrise, clouds, mist

Birds twitter and rattle. I hear a sound that reminds of the whistle of a circus calliope. Air feels warm through the mist. I wonder why when I look closely at the river near the bend and it sparkles blue, yet the river near the bridge looks green.

Canada Goose, pier, Fair Oaks bridge, American River, water, mornings, wildlife, nature, outdoor, writing,Two Canada Geese honk loudly as they fly in from the west and cross the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge. These two geese are so loud, they almost drown out the roar of traffic. They fly in low over the bridge, still honking all the way as they continue past the boat launch ramp. Then both of them make a U-turn and split up – still honking.

One goose flies to the riverbank under the bridge. The other flies toward the bridge to land softly on the concrete support pier inches from where I stand on the deck. Standing quietly, the goose surveys the river from its perch and begins morning preening rituals. Minutes later, it shouts to its partner and they continue to hold a conversation from the pier to the riverbank. I am wondering did they take different positions to more effectively scout the river for breakfast?

One fisherman launches his boat and speeds up river. Runners pass me on the bridge. Groups of walkers enjoy the early morning air. The goose on the pier whispers and continues watching the river. Are they looking for the last Steelhead to swim upriver to spawn? As the steelhead run comes to a close, fishermen take their places on the American River waiting. A dozen fishermen were standing on the riverbank at dusk last night. Several others stood hip high in the river. One fish leaped out of the water. I saw no one catching any.

autumn leaves, fall, Spring, Winter, pavement, Fair Oaks Bridge, Bridge street, colorWalking off the bridge and on to Bridge Street, I notice the street covered with red-orange leaves laying flat on the pavement. I wonder where they came from? How did they stay on the trees throughout the winds and rain of fall and winter – to finally touch ground on the first day of Spring?

 

A Noisy Morning

Sunday, March 24, 2019   710 am, 43 degrees

American River, boats, fishermen, sunrise, outdoors, natura, water, launch, mornings

Chickens wander Bridge Street calling out their wake up songs. Today was another chilly morning when my breath flowed through the air. A pair of fishermen launch their boat at the same time the sun rises over the trees to gently warm the morning. Thin white clouds hang in the sky like a veil over a soft, pastel colored sky.

As signs of Spring emerge, I see life at the American River in motion once again. Spiders spin webs on the side rails of Fair Oaks Bridge. Birds actively greet the morning with a chorus of tweets, rattles and coos. Ducks swim to the center of the river corridor and dive for breakfast.

I see them dive in one spot and reappear some five or ten yards away. Ducks fly in and “water ski” on the river as they quietly splash down. Green grass growing in between every board on the bridge deck is slowly turning pale yellow. As I stand on the bridge watching the wildlife, runners and walkers pass enjoying an early day outside.

Canada Geese, ducks, guard, boat launch ramp, American River, fishermen, eat, boat, battle, squabble
Canada Geese guard their place on boat  ramp

The arrival of several pairs of Canada Geese dominated morning activity with their loud honks and territorial squabbles. Another pair arrived every few minutes. All of them are in constant motion, continuously honking for most of an hour. A single goose stands on the concrete pier of Fair Oaks Bridge watching the scene, calling to everyone as they arrived.

After last week’s episode when the goose was rudely shooed off the pier as a pair arrived, I wondered if it was calling, “Find some other place to rest, I am not moving this time!”

Some geese perch at the top of the bridge truss. Others settle into the water. The first pair to arrive stake their claim on the boat ramp and the water directly in front of it. When another pair land in their claimed space, one goose rises up, flaps its wings, honks and shoos them away until the pair swam elsewhere. These unwelcome geese eventually fly away to a different part of the river. The original pair stand guard at the boat ramp.

I watch as each pair of geese arrives, they splash down in the river or wander to the riverbank nearby the Fair Oaks Bridge. Moments later, the geese rise up to circle east of the bridge, land on the Fair Oaks Bluff for a few seconds, take off again, and continue their circular flight before settling back down again into the water – honking all the way. The pairs repeat this pattern of flying in circles over and over again. As soon as a new pair geese land in the water, the first unfriendly pair quickly chase them away.

I wonder do they get a better view of breakfast swimming in the water as they swim overhead? Or are they stretching their wings and warming up?

mornings, American River, wildlife, waterfowl, ducks, observation, quiet, peaceful, swim, riverbank, Fair Oaks BridgeDucks are the only quiet ones this morning. I watch pairs fly in and swim as they emerge from evening hiding places. Paying no attention to geese squabbles, they arrive without a sound and swim near the riverbank.

Music of Early Morning at Fair Oaks Bridge

Monday, April 15, 2019   52 degrees, 630 am

                        A cool wind blows under a dense blanket of clouds. Thin strips of sunlight shine through clouds.music, early morning, sunrise, American river, water, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, wildlife, beauty, scenic

Birds greet the morning with songs as they sit in nearby trees and later fly as groups in geometric patterns across the American River corridor. A single unseen pigeon coos. A lone rooster crows from Bridge Street. It walks on to the bridge searching for something to eat and continues to call its good morning song.

music, early mornings, rooster, chickens, chicks, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, Bridge Street

The rooster wanders the bridge deck and lingers on Bridge Street alone, while dozens of other chickens and roosters roam and crow in parks, streets, sidewalks and fence tops in Fair Oaks Village three blocks up the hill.

I wonder about the mother hen that used to search for breakfast and hide in bushes alongside the rooster. She was mother to five chicks, several months ago. As the chicks grew in size, I also saw fewer of them. Then there were two “adolescent” chicks with the mother hen and rooster – then one. Now the rooster is the only one prowling the street. I can only guess that predators ate them, one by one.

As I watch the glistening blue gray sky and the swirling speed of the river moving downstream, two Canada Geese raise their voices as they emerge from hiding in the riverbank and fly away. More geese are honking loudly in the distance on the western side of Fair Oaks Bridge. Few ducks have emerged yet this morning. The river feels empty. Two men stand on the riverbank to fish.

music, Canada Geese, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, boat launch ramp, beauty, scene, American River, honkDuring brief walks along the American River Parkway on Saturday and Sunday morning, birds crowded trees along the bicycle trail to sing good morning. Three Canada Geese arrived honking loudly, circling the bridge and the boat launch ramp and kept on honking for several minutes. I always wonder if they are arguing about where to land or where is the best place for breakfast?

Listen to geese as they circle the sky alongside Fair Oaks Bridge. Bird song recordings were too soft to be heard.

Wildlife Gather at Boat Launch Ramp

Friday, May 3, 2019, 7 am, 56 degrees

Soft sunlight glows through dense cloud cover. The air is chilled and heavy with moisture.

sunrise, morniing, Fair Oaks Bridge, nature, outdoors, writing, peace, beauty,shadows,

I hear Canada Geese honking while swimming in the American River as I arrive at Fair Oaks Bridge. The geese fly across the river calling to each other, land on the riverbank nearest the entrance to the bridge. They rise again to settle back down into the river, now joined by another pair of noisy Canada Geese.  I notice that all the spider webs have been torn apart by the wind. I walk downhill to the boat launch ramp.

The bike path and driveway in front of the ramp are the center of this mornings’ activity.

rooster, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, walk, nature, outdoors, writing, nature, peace, lonely, bicycle trail, noisyA squirrel dashes across the trail, while the resident rooster patrols the street. The rooster walks beside me at first then wanders the dirt alongside the pavement. As I walk toward the boat launch ramp, it rushes to stand beside me. His feet scratch the pavement and feathers swish. As I watch the wildlife at this intersection of driveway and bicycle trail, the rooster continues to shout to no one in particular, over and over again.

ducks waddle, bicycle trail, mornings, nature, outdoors, Fair Oaks Bridge, Boat launch rampThree ducks waddle down the center of the bicycle trail. Two Canada Geese wander in the dirt alongside.  As I return to Fair Oaks Bridge. I watch one Canada Goose sit at the top enjoying a sweeping view of the river.

 

 

Listening to the Sounds of Morning

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 7:40 am

Sunlight today is warm. No wind. Scattered white clouds stretch over the eastern sky like thick cotton batting. I stand and listen to the bird greet me with a song from the overhead truss of Fair Oaks Bridge.   I leave the bridge and take the short walk to the boat launch ramp. Five women walk ahead of me. Approaching the boat ramp, I see a family of Canada Geese. The goslings are already nearly full size and the characteristic black strip is growing on their long thin necks.

Canada Geese, boat ramp, American River, wings, river, morning, American RiverBirds twitter and rattle. I stay and watch the water, listen to the resident rooster who lives and patrols the area nearby the ramp. He calls out over and over again. Each time I visit the boat ramp and the rooster sees me, he rushes over to walk by side. He is a sad sight – tail feathers drooping, looking like several are missing. I walk slowly back to the bridge, listening to the sounds of the morning.

Cyclists speed past me and a few more people walk by. When I reach the bridge, I stop. I sit down on the deck and feel far away from the “busyness” of urban life. I sit and watch the glow of sunrise in the water. I watch the graceful flight of an Egret fly west under the bridge until I can no longer see it.

This is the time to settle my body and quiet my mind focus on the present moments at the river. I watch the ripples forming in the water as it moves downstream. Long lines form with soft curves flow downstream under the bridge. The curves bend and form circles and continue to swirl.

More cyclists and more walkers pass by. Some focus straight ahead more intent on their steps than the beauty and peace of the setting they are walking through. Some people are talking on their phones, while others are deep in conversation as they walk.

Mornings reflections looking at Fair Oaks Bluff

A car pulls into the round parking area in front of the boat ramp and stops. It pauses a few moments and then drives away. Many drivers and w visit the boat launch ramp to enjoy the view. I see them sitting still in their cars, not getting out. Just sitting still and looking out the windows. Walkers come and sit on the memorial bench that faces Fair Oaks Bluff. The Bluff is often referred to as the “Crown of the Parkway.” The steep cliffs eroded over millions of year and the sedimentary rock face clearly defines its history.

As I walk off the bridge, I hear the rooster continue to call out looking for a friend. Two Canada Geese paddle slowly through the water to the riverbank.

Meditations at the River

Saturday, June 9, 2019

Walking along the American River near Fair Oaks Bridge to write, take photos and share these experiences is as much as a healing journey and a reconnection to nature, as it is a time of quiet observation. The river is my place of peace and joy to share as a gift.
sunrise, morniing, Fair Oaks Bridge, nature, outdoors, writing, peace, beauty,shadows,

This special place at the river…

I believe this sense of peace is a shared feeling for many other visitors who stop on Fair Oaks Bridge to look, reflect and photograph. I see cars park on the road leading to the boat ramp. I see the drivers sit inside and enjoy the scenic views.  I see visitors resting on the bench alongside that road facing Fair Oaks Bluff to admire the view.

I am fascinated by the changing patterns of clouds in the sky, and how they filter the sunlight to create vibrant colors of pinks, blues, gold and flaming orange.

I find joy in watching the rhythm of a duck’s webbed feet paddle underwater. I love watching its body sway back and forth as it walks up the boat ramp.

I breathe easily and breathe in deeply. I listen to the sounds of birds, embrace the sweet scent of flowers in bloom, and feel a cool breeze against my skin.

I think of the salmon’s enduring struggle as they swim upstream to spawn. I watch the antics of wildlife as they try to catch a salmon as it swims past them, They guard their dead salmon as a treasure to assure no one steals their feast.

I reflect on its history – a critical resource close to the heart of California’s Gold Rush. To remember the history of seasonal flooding long before Folsom Dam was ever built. To remember the earliest settlers who established Fair Oaks Agricultural Colony by purchasing small farms. Fair Oaks was one of many emerging farm communities in outlying areas of the City of Sacramento.

I recognize all the people who work tirelessly to manage a wild river so it can remain a stable habitat for wildlife who make their home here. This river is also a place for anyone to ride, walk, enjoy and become connected with the outdoor world – and Sacramento’s past, present and future prosperity.

 

 

 

 

A Peaceful and Beautiful Morning Wake up

Thursday, June 13, 2019 640 am, 57 degrees

A sense of calm and quiet fills the air as I walk from Bannister Park to Fair Oaks Bridge and boat ramp.

Mornings reflections looking at Fair Oaks Bluff

As I stand on Jim’s Bridge, I watch the river move swiftly underneath. The air is so still, I listen to the whoosh of the water flowing downstream. I search for spider webs stretched across the side rails. I listen to birds fill the morning air with songs and enjoy the vibrant green on trees and plants and grass as I pass. The air is still cool and fresh and still. I greet many other walkers and runners also enjoying this peaceful morning. I continue walking down the Jedediah Smith Bicycle Trail toward Fair Oaks Bridge.

spider webs, Fair Oaks Bridge, morning, Jims Bridge, nature, outdoors, walks, beauty, scenic

 

Shortly after I walk on to the bridge, an Egret glides underneath it heading west. I always admire the Egret’s graceful, quiet flight and watch until it lands on the riverbank 100 yards away.

One boat sits in the water near the boat ramp. A fisherman stands at the end of the ramp casting in the water, drawing his line in and casting again. I walk down to the boat ramp for a closer look. Halfway across the river is an unusually colored small duck floats in the water. It is different than any other duck normally swimming in the river and continue to wonder about this. Suddenly it disappears. That is when I notice a fisherman  throwing his line out and the duck is attached at the end. Once more the duck bobs in the deep green water.

I stand and watch the fishermen throw their lines in, the men in the nearby boat as they sit and wait for a tug on their fishing line. I look up to Fair Oaks Bridge and see walkers, runners and cyclists cross the bridge.

I look across the river corridor at the deep colors of Fair Oaks Bluff and its reflection in the green shimmering water. 

The morning is so peaceful, even the two ducks standing in the water at the end of the ramp are standing in quiet contemplation. Occasionally a lonely rooster calls from a distance. Returning to Fair Oaks Bridge, I see two turtles are sunbathing on the log extending from the riverbank parallel to the bridge. They have been away for several weeks. I finished my morning walk not knowing the temperature had risen by more than 10 degrees and that I had been out walking, watching and listening for more than two hours.

 

 

 

 

Spider Webs and River Stories

Saturday, June 22, 2019 730 am 56 degrees

Two roosters call to greet me at Bridge Street on my way to Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen sit patiently in their boats out in the river. A feeling of peace and calm washes over me as the cool, gentle wind crosses my face. Birds call softly to greet the new day.

Fishermen are busy casting their lines. Some Canada Geese dive in search of breakfast.

So many spider webs line the bridge this morning. I stopped counting at 12. Maybe more than two dozen webs stretched all the way across the rails on the west side of the bridge. They range in size from two inches to eight, all woven into perfect intersecting lines. The sun is a glowing yellow ball of fire hanging in an empty pale blue sky. Runners, walkers and cyclists pass by. No one stops. No one looks side to side.

They all miss the intricate spider webs – graveyards for hundreds of flies hanging in storage for future meals. With so many flies lining the entire span of the bridge, I wonder if catching so many flies is for the sport or the need to eat.

Today I look over the side of the bridge that is closer to the bicycle trail near the riverbank and see a fallen log lying on the river bottom. The tree uprooted during the early 20017 flooding and lays in the same spot as if held captive there to rest. I suspect that  many visitors have long forgotten the destruction caused by the flooding when Folsom Dam released heavy water flows down the river. The river still holds memories of that turbulent time.

 

Visitors crowded the bridge during those weeks of heavy flows to see water swirl in a dizzying frenzy under Fair Oaks Bridge, Sunrise Blvd. and submerging Jim’s Bridge farther west.

Scanning the riverbanks, I can still see trees bent over and debris and tangled bushes lying on the landscape. Animal homes along the banks may still be flooded.

The American River continues to hold its own stories for anyone to discover.

Geese in Flight

geese at American River, early morning

Early morning the day after a day of heavy rain at the American River in Fair Oaks. Geese are catching up on their flying lessons.  They fly up and away! Enjoying the outdoor world is always a miracle.

How many geese are flying in this photo?