Kingfisher Day!

What a fine morning!

Although the day started with a (welcome) rain shower, the rain clouds parted by mid morning to let the sun shine on the Russian River.

Landscape, Russian River

On the drive down the river to the Jenner launch site, I saw a bald eagle winging his way upstream towards Duncans Mills. That did not bode well for getting photographs of bald eagles today, but I allowed myself to hope for a photograph of a kingfisher.

When I arrived at the launch ramp, Bob and Ray were ready to paddle off toward the mouth. I would follow them, 15 minutes behind. Storms in the Pacific had stirred up some big surf. The waves were so loud I decided to get out of my kayak and walk over the sandbar to have a look. It was just about low tide when I took this picture, so I knew that the waves would come higher up the beach as the day wore on. I did not linger there long.

Surf Scene

Good thing, too. Some of the waves were pretty scary. A sneaker wave would have no trouble sweeping a walker into trouble.

Big Wave

It was time to paddle away from the mouth.

Across from Paddy’s Rock kingfishers were flying from tree to tree staying just out of the reach of my camera lens. Although kingfishers are commonly present on the lower reaches of the Russian River, they can be one of the most difficult birds to photograph from a kayak. They keep a good distance away from most paddlers and, while they perch right along the banks of the river, they tend to go just far enough into the branches of trees to stay hidden from view. It seems as if they watch kayakers lift a camera into position and. as they see a finger get near the shutter, they take off and fly 50 to 100 yards further down the river, mocking the photographer with their their raspy, sassy call.

I followed one kingfisher, a female, upstream toward the highway bridge, trying to keep far enough away to avoid her flying away. Finally she settled into a tree and started fishing. I had never actually seen a kingfisher dive into the river before. This bird dove into the river twice. She got a fish on one of her dives; the other I couldn’t tell because she flew up into the trees far enough to be hidden from view.

Fishing Kingfisher

Female Kingfisher

She was fishing in the shadows of the trees growing along the river. Of the 30+ photos, this one is the best.

Going further upstream, I caught sight of another kingfisher, this one, a male, in full sun.

Perching Kingfisher in Sun

Males do not have the brown markings on their breasts.

Fishing in the same section of the river between the highway bridge and Willowcreek were some loons fishing in a group of four. Here’s a photo of one of them.

Loony Loon

In the next day or two, I’ll post a short movie of the loons fishing.

Here’s a map of my paddle today. (Click on the title words, “Kingfisher Paddle” too see the whole map.)