Otters and Marty

As the light faded, I paddled upstream. The river was lonely—almost empty of other paddlers. Then someone in a blue-and-white Eddyline Samba emerged from the gloom.



She was just ahead of me and she was looking at something along the shore. Turned out to be three River Otters swimming along the left bank towards the mouth.


Near the bridge I introduced myself and learned her name, Marty.

She’s a retired pathologist who’s got a vacation home at Bridgehaven. We enjoyed a brief conversation about national news, the pleasures of retirement, and restorative power of spending time outdoors in nature.


Seals and a Work Crew

A group of harbor seals is hanging out near the mouth of the river awaiting winter storms. When enough rain falls the river will open for steelhead runs.


Last Wednesday a motorized work crew posted signs to warn visitors away from the seals. Thursday the Sonoma County Water Agency breached the sand bar, but large ocean swells soon closed it again.


Their passing vehicle scared about a dozen into the estuary. A canoe would have caused less noise, expense, and disturbance.

Upstream, this seal rested on a log. Its doleful expression matched the mood of many Americans post election day.


Mouth is Closed

The mouth of the Russian River is closed again two days after the Sonoma County Water Agency breached it. Large waves washed sand into the channel dug by the Agency’s track hoe.


Water level in the estuary stands at 5′ at the Jenner Visitor’s Center. That’s about a foot below the level it was when I paddled there last Wednesday.

A pair of Bald Eagles have been visiting this area. They were there this morning, sitting on Haystack Rock just before I took this photo.

I enjoyed talking with fellow naturalist Larry Tiller who was at the overlook with his camera.

Deer and Pelicans

When the water level was high the day before yesterday this deer stood on Penny Island, as still as a statue.


And a lot of pelicans and gulls gathered on the beach.


It was a peaceful day at the mouth of the river and worth staying till sunset.


Tomorrow: Seals and a work crew.

Estuary News: The Water Agency breached the mouth of the Russian River yesterday. Water levels will drop. You can see photos of the track hoe used to breach the bar and of a pair of Bald Eagles that were at the mouth yesterday over at Bob’s Blog. It’s worth a click.


Jenner, November 9, 2016

Wednesday I needed some solitude in natural surroundings and the healing company of wild animals.

So I loaded the SS Estuarian on my car and drove out to the Russian River’s estuary.

When I started out, I felt like this grebe.

grebe-head-down-11816Two hours later I was able to hold my head higher and look around at this wonderful world.


Tomorrow: Deer and pelicans at Jenner