May 3 on the Lower Russian River Estuary

4:26:16 Windy!

Gulls across from Jenner on April 26, 2016

Last week’s windy weather at the Russian River Estuary made many birds seek shelter and kept many paddlers off the water. It was possible to observe Harbor Seals hauled out at the mouth of the river. Pups nursed.

4:23:16 Pup Nursing

April 23, 2016 Pup nursing at Russian River Mouth

Today’s weather, though overcast, proved much more favorable for observing the animals out at the mouth.

5:3:16 Western Grebes

A kayaker passes a pair of Western Grebes

Three groups of Harbor Seals numbering about 200 individuals in all rested onshore at the mouth. The largest group,116 animals, were hauled out just inside the mouth of the river; two smaller groups were a few meters upstream and included most of the pups.

5:3:16 One of 116 HS resting at the Mouth

Some of the 116 seals in the larger group


A pair of Sea Lions frolicked in the current flowing out into the Pacific. These Sea Lions swam with greater vigor than any of their seal cousins.

5:3:16 Sea Lion

Sea Lions have a more pronounced snout than seals.

My friend and fellow naturalist, Bob Noble, saw a single Surf Scoter near the mouth.

5:3:16 Surf Scoter?

Bob and I caught up since the last time we’d been out. We talked about Beavers. Like me, Bob feels that Beavers would do the Russian River watershed a lot of good.

5:3:16 Naturalist Bob Noble

Check out Bob’s blog. (Link on the right of this blog.)

When Bob paddled off I got out to have lunch on the beach. A group of Caspian Terns stood on the sand on the beach just north of the river’s mouth.

5:3:16 Caspian Terns

After lunch it was time to pick up trash on the beach. I’m happy to report that there was not a whole lot of trash to pick up. Still it’s a good bet you’ll find tennis balls to pick up. I found one to bring to my Naturalist class tonight.

I had thought that tennis balls got into the river when people throw them into the river for their dog to retrieve. But paddling upstream I found this tree across from Penny Island. Does anyone know its species name?

5:3:16 Tennis Ball Tree

Going further upstream I saw an assortment of birds.

Canadian Geese,

5:3:16 Canadian Geese

Female Mergansers and Cormorants,

5:3:16 Female Merganser with Cormorant

A male Merganser,

5:3:16 Male Merganser

and even a Great Blue Heron.

5:3:16 GBH at Eagle's Landing

In the sky I saw an Eagle. Large dark feathered raptor with a long, strong neck. I’m pretty sure was immature Bald Eagle. It was too far away to photograph, but it showed up pretty plainly in my binoculars.

4 thoughts on “May 3 on the Lower Russian River Estuary

  1. The trees Latin botanical name is Greenis Vegetatis Ballissroundis – rare but not unknown.

    I like the photo of the Caspian Terns with the rugged surf in the background – it sums up the ruggedness of the place.

    Beavers sound like fun – perhaps you should go on a Beaver hunting expedition and introduce some yourself, I’ll come and help if you like. (The local powers that be seem to do whatever they like such as introduce unlawful parking fees, so why shouldn’t the ordinary populace introduce environmental enhancing Beavers?).

  2. Thanks, Richard. I thought of you when I was picking up the beach. You’d have been delighted to see how little trash is out there now. The Russian Riverkeepers are working to clean up the trash from upstream homeless camps and its making a real difference in Jenner. Also, I think there are a bunch of people like me who pick up whatever trash they find on the beach.

  3. Hi Alden,

    Do Greenis Vegetatis Ballisroundis trees grow in New Zealand?

    The idea of introducing beavers is intriguing…. Bob told me that beaver trappers are employed in other parts of the US to remove or relocate beavers who cause problems, so that would be the supply, I guess.

    I’ve heard that beavers are present in Sonoma County’s southeastern corner, in Sonoma Creek. It’s possible that beavers will find their own way into the Russian River watershed without human help.

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