Green Herons, Killdeer, Kingfisher, Otter, Osprey & Mergansers

This morning a strong northwesterly wind swept down the Sonoma County coastline and pushed its way into the lower Russian River estuary. Strong winds tend to keep wildlife hunkered down out of sight. I decided to alter the plan to paddle near the mouth in favor of paddling the upper reaches of the estuary near Monte Rio where the wind would be more manageable and the bird life more abundant.

It was a good choice. There was a lot to see.

Green Herons waded along the shore in the water primrose (Ludwigia peploides, an invasive species) which flourishes in the Russian River anywhere the water is fresh, warm, shallow, and slow moving. Whatever those smaller herons were eating was down the hatch before I could see what it was.

Whole Green Heron 6:14:16

When approached Green Herons freeze in place to avoid being noticed, a strategy that works pretty well. This behavior also makes them ideal subjects for the amateur photographer.

Green Heron Face 6:14:16

Many of the birds today were in out pairs. A couple of killdeer patrolled Sheridan Beach where I stopped to quaff a thermos of hot black tea.

Killdeer Couple 6:14:16

A little further down the estuary a female Kingfisher alighted in a tree close by. These birds usually fly off long before they get within range of my kayak-born camera. On this occasion she was paying so much attention to a nearby male that she didn’t mind my close approach.

Kingfisher Female 6:14:16

Kingfisher Pair

Male is on the left, female on the right

A river otter did its best to stay out of sight.

River Otter 6:14:16

I paddled as far as the pole-mounted osprey nest installed on Ryan’s Beach. A pair of Osprey kept watch from above. I saw Ospreys nesting on a trip to Lake Sonoma earlier this spring in March I wondered how long the nesting season is for Osprey.

Nesting Osprey 6:14:16

The paddle back to Monte Rio was both with the wind and against the current. The two fluid currents nearly cancelled themselves out, providing a pleasant journey back to the launch ramp in Monte Rio.

A Mama Merganser was teaching her offspring how to get a midday meal out of the river. I got a little bit of video of it that you can see on Youtube.

6 thoughts on “Green Herons, Killdeer, Kingfisher, Otter, Osprey & Mergansers

  1. I saw those kingfishers the other day just about in the same place as you. There were three of them. I got on top of them about twenty feet before I knew it. I didn’t get the camera up as I thought they’d fly off, but they didn’t right away until I got the camera out. I think it was a Momma and Poppa and this years young, maybe.
    I assume you checked out the trash slide while you were down there?

  2. Hi, Bob—

    Must’ve been the same birds. There were 3 of them in all.

    Not sure where the trash area was. Is Moscow Hole across from Duncans Mills Camp Club? If so, I can get to it late this week, probably.

  3. No, it’s at Rein’s beach, just on the upper end of the hole by the big redwood tree on the road side, south side. Can’t really miss it as there is enough trash on it and in the river there. The birds must of distracted you as they were near the spot. I believe there is a pull out on the main road above the area if you want to drive.

  4. Is there Poison Oak around there? If there is, it won’t be me picking it up because I get it really bad.

  5. Good point Dan. Most likely is, but not down on the river where the slide is and there was a bag of trash in the hole too. The hole is the one just above Rein’s beach. I figured with the people you know on the river from working with trash pickups, you’d know some people to help out with this, after all, I think there is a camp there where some people need to be educated about trash getting into the river and I’m not sure that’s your job? :O) There looked like a bunch of bags at the top of the slide, so a lot more could be getting into the river soon?

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