Estero Americano February 25, 2016

With the Cow Patty Pageant just around the corner, Jono and I decided to paddle Estero Americano at an unhurried pace today.

Jono at EA 2:25:16

Warm sun and almost no wind made for placid paddling. Just past halfway to the beach we passed the low cliffs along the southern shore, pausing to look at the ferns and trees growing on the north-face of the cliff.

Hanging Gardens EA 2:25:16

Right at the edge of the water at the foot of the cliff we found the body of a raptor that had died recently.

Dead Raptor 2:25:16

Trying to identify a dead bird is surprisingly difficult. Yes, it is easier to get close and take detailed pictures. But pictures are only part of the story. The way birds animate themselves is often what distinguishes them. It’s much harder to identify a bird without seeing its behavior, hearing its voice, watching it fly.

Talons 2:25:16

The Sibley Field Guide shows that most raptors have yellow feet and hooked bills that are yellow at the base and dark at the tip. This one had a white breast, and died in open marshland, perhaps a Northern Harrier?

Though we had hoped to see lots of birds and maybe a river otter or two, there was not a lot a wildlife activity in the Estero today. A few snowy egrets.

Snowy Egret EA 2:25:16

A solitary deer ranged along the south shore.

Deer 2:25:16

Up near the launching area a cow relaxed on the bank.


Large herds of dairy cows graze right up to the edge of the Estero. Because of them, the water smells.

Makes me wonder…. are the dairying operations (and nearby poultry farms) adjacent to the Estero polluting it to the point that wildlife avoids the area?

4 thoughts on “Estero Americano February 25, 2016

  1. Thank goodness to see someone else that notices and address this issue . . . the ag runoff is what had this body of water classified as “impaired” in 1995. It has never been truly addressed. At low tide the cattle have free access to traverse the estero leaving behind manure and their acidic urine and the chemicals and antibiotics they’re given, behind . . . all to be carried into the ocean . . . if you ever want to take this on I’ll join forces. I’ve addressed various agencies and they all throw up their hands or flat out deny it’s an issue. It’s a matter of dollars and big AG. Pointing to agriculture as a source of pollution in Marin and certainly Sonoma county is frowned upon. Why else would they allow dairy farmers to use millions of gallons of precious water to dilute manure ponds and then use massive oscillating sprinklers to atomize this bacteria-laden filth into the air we breathe and think it’s all going to work out? Can you tell this is a hot button for me . . .

  2. Let’s have coffee. I’d like to talk with you about this. Maybe there is a way to do something to restore this watershed.

  3. Sounds like a plan. Maybe Richard J. could join us as he’s been through the ringer with watershed policy issues. You have my email address . . . let’s “talk”.

  4. Dan, we have this problem here in NZ. Farmers should (but don’t always) fence off their farm animals from waterways and lakes. Cattle walking and pooping in the water is one problem, as is fertilizer runoff and the general long term leaching from the soil into the water table of everything from farm soil – it’s a huge problem.

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