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

Morning of Stillness

Wednesday, December 15, 2016 9:30 am 53 degrees

emeralds, stillness, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, morningEach time I visit the bridge, I walk from a nearby parking in the Fair Oaks Village. I listen, I look, I get a “feel” for the morning. Today everything is quiet. Not a single crow from the chickens. No cars driving on the street. Not a single person walking through the Village. I walk downhill to the bridge entrance and see grass as green as emeralds.

Several months have passed since  the landscape was so green. I wonder if I will see fairies dancing or leaping from the grasses.

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Winter Chill Lingers

Sunday, March 5, 2017    7 am    43 degrees

A gentle breeze blows to chill the air on this very quiet morning. The temperature apparently too cold for the chickens to wake up.

Only a few chickens are awake this morning after last night’s drizzly rain. Birds are twittering. Water remains on the streets.                   Blue gray clouds blanket the sky with faint differences in shades of gray.

Fair Oaks Bridge, boat launch ramp, boat, American RiverThe bridge is dry, showing no sign of last night’s storm. Standing on the bridge I see the fully exposed boat launch ramp and mound of mud now worn smooth from falling rain. Soon all traces of flooding on the boat ramp and parking lot behind will be washed away. The American River moves quietly downstream with very few ripples returning to its pre-rain state.

The yellow “END” sign is still stuck fast alongside the muddy riverbank in a tangle of branches. A large red reflector attached to the sign post is now visible. I wonder if this is the end of the sign’s journey down river?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

Waterfowl Return and Search for Food

June 6, 2017   7 am

Lovely, quiet morning. The air chilled, a slight breeze blowing. Scattered, puffy white clouds fill the sky.

I missed Fair Oaks Village and the chickens today. I rode my bike from home directly to the boat launch ramp. My morning melody is birds in trees chirping and twittering, combined with the distant buzz of motorcycles and humming cars crossing the Sunrise Blvd. bridge.

Canada Geese, boat launch ramp, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River Parkway, ducks, pigeonsCanada geese and ducks are silent and still as they sit at the dry end of the boat ramp. Some ducks engaged in their morning clean up rituals. Sunrise is so early, the sun is well above the trees before I arrive. Pigeons wander the riverbank cooing and searching for nibbles. No people are here save a few boaters waiting on bites from shad.

Minutes later the geese and ducks wander up the boat launch ramp looking for breakfast. They approach me waiting for handouts.

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A Perfect Sunday!

Sunday, June 17, 2017   745 am 71 degrees

 An ideal day to spend at the American River after a week of scorching heat all day and evening.

I approached Jim’s crossing over the river and see no waterfowl. Not a single one! Where are they? So much has changed since the winter floods to those who visit the river regularly and see the difference.

I ride to the boat launch ramp before riding up to the Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen are out in their boats, hoping to catch Shad Skippers. These men are the second group of fisherman out on the river in the past couple weeks trying their luck. Kayaks are launching into the river.

Two boats are already in the water with one more to launch. The boat sits in front of a backdrop composed of Canada Geese. From a distance it appears they are floating backwards. Maybe they are as the geese roll along with the current.Read more

Bobbing For Breakfast

June 16, 2017 730 am,  80 degrees

One hundred cyclists pass me on the American River Parkway in groups of four to six all wearing cycling spandex with logos. Some casual riders pass without bicycle helmets.

Bridge is quiet and filled with spider webs and captured prey. Woodpeckers are flying through the dead tree, looking for breakfast. My first stop after crossing the bike bridge is the boat launch ramp and then Fair Oaks Bridge. Today another scorching day of least 100 degrees, so early morning is the best time to be outside.

Most of the Canada Geese (all 70 of them) wander their early morning hours at the rocky shore alongside Jim’s Bridge – the cycling/pedestrian bridge completely submerged during winter flooding. They scavenge the rocks for food and later enter the water for a leisurely swim.

Geese climb the boat ramp and beyond into the dirt searching for breakfast. Mallards fly in from the opposite shore. I watch a group of four of them glide into the water straightening their legs and using them as water skis to quickly come to a stop. I watch the action and miss the photos.

paddling, upside down, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, morning
Using feet to balance while eating breakfast upside down
Canada Geese, upside down, feeding, bobbing, morning, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, swimming, diving
Bobbing for breakfast

Standing close to the water, I watch the Canada Geese and ducks and can see their feet paddling along under the water. I see all of them bobbing up and down in the water as they go. Their heads move forward and back. The once tiny goslings are big now. Their characteristic black stripe is darkening on their necks.

As I stand on the boat ramp, four of the ducks are engaged in morning cleaning rituals. Three others are sleeping with their head tucked under their wing. In the distance I hear one lonely chicken call.

Bottoms Up!

The Boat launch ramp near Fair Oaks Bridge is an ideal site to watch Mallards and Canada Geese begin their mornings – eating and socializing. Are bobbing heads the way to say “Good Morning” in duck speak?
Bottoms up!

Some mornings are far busier than others. Other visitors tell me they have seen a beaver busily stripping the meat from a salmon, an otter family on a leisurely early morning swim and a wayward seal found its way up river.

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.