Ten Miles on Tomales Bay 2

A great advantage of paddling solo early in the morning is the wildlife. No other humans were out on the bay when I started my paddle. But there was company out on Tomales Bay.

Not far up the shore from Chicken Ranch Beach three River Otters were enjoying a breakfast frolic in early morning sunshine.

They were so busy diving to the bottom for their morning buffet that they did not notice me right away.


“Whoa. What’s up with that orange thing? It wasn’t here when we swam out here.”

I approached slowly and quietly until one of them caught sight of my bright orange and white kayak.

He (or she) alerted the others with a tweeting vocalization that might easily be mistaken as a bird call.


“Chirp! Is that a human? Does he see us?”

They paused to take some good long looks at me. I think they were trying to decide whether I had noticed them. We all more or less stopped what we were doing. After a minute or so, they resumed feeding and I went on taking photos.

Soon after, all three began to move off, swimming toward the sun.


Swimming toward the sun

I wondered, “Do they swim toward the sun to make it harder for me to see them?” It certainly seems possible to me. They live by hunting, after all. They would know that prey animals are easier to see with the sun at your back.


“Arrrgh! This human won’t let us alone.”

Because otters cannot swim as fast as kayaks, I was able to position my boat between them and the sun. Eventually, my persistence annoyed them and they swam back to shore and climbed into the brush and out of sight.

I had interrupted their breakfast.

Tomorrow I’ll post a short video interesting mainly for its audio content where you’ll be able to hear the alert chirping sounds that otters make to warn each other of danger.

Ten Miles on Tomales Bay

The forecast called for lovely fall weather on Tomales Bay today.


I arose before sunup and drove to Chicken Ranch Beach in Inverness for a paddle along the western shore up to Laird’s Landing near Marshall Beach where artist Clayton Lewis once lived.


Because of the early start, I saw quite a lot of wildlife on the northbound leg of the jouney. I’ll share photos in the days ahead.

Here is a map of today’s journey:

Till next time!

Abundant Otters

Many otters were out last time I paddled the Russian River.

The owner of this blue kayak had bungeed a dog bed on the back deck presumably so they could take their pet pooch on an evening paddle.

It was not a good idea to leave boat/bed rig on the beach overnight. dogyakThis appeared to be the work of River Otters.


Sure enough, there were at least a half dozen otters loitering about.


River otters are only kind of cute.


Fellow Early Riser

This cormorant allowed me to approach close enough for a picture in low, pre-dawn light.


You can tell that the sky was not overcast that morning—see the blue light on the back feathers?

I had not had breakfast or coffee when I took this photo. This bird, I think, had not yet had breakfast either.


Calm Above, Still Below

Part of the mission of Estuarian is to remind myself and everyone I who might happen by here that the natural world is still incredibly beautiful, still miraculous, still worth savoring and definitely worth our efforts to save it.

It is important to get outside and enjoy it as much as possible, to learn more about nature when we go out, and to do what we can to help, even if its as simple as picking up the trash we find along the way.

Going out with friends almost always makes it more fun, but to see nature up close, it’s worth going out solo and stealthily. When we go out with others it’s hard not to enjoy conversation—and when we talk, a lot of animals take cover and hide long before we’re aware of them.

Check out this photo, taken on my most recent outing. I’ll share a secret about it at the end.


Russian River, from Laurel Dell, looking downstream towards the Catholic Retreat site.

This photo brings to mind one of my favorite quotes:

“The great lessons from the true mystics … is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred. To be looking everywhere for miracles is a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.” 

-Abraham H. Maslow

(PS—The secret about the photo: It’s upside down. I inverted it.)