Buckeye Bend

Buckeye trees grow along a bending curve in the Estero that’s about halfway between Valley Ford and the Pacific.

I call the area Buckeye Bend.

buckeye-bend-looking-east

In May, the Buckeye trees that grow here blossom magnificently.

buckeye-in-bloom-may

Buckeye tree in May

In November, the trees lose all their leaves and blossoms. They look dead. But they’re just resting peacefully, biding their time and getting ready to endure the winter and prepare for spring.

leafless-buckeye-trees

On those “bare” branches hang many buckeyes.

buckeyes-hanging-from-tree

Lots of buckeyes had already fallen to the ground. They thoroughly littered the shore.

buckeye-litter

Buckeyes, up close are really quite beautiful.

4-buckeyes

They’re about the size of a golf ball. I am told that Native Californians ate buckeyes when oak trees didn’t produce sufficient acorns.

pausing-at-buckeye-bend-looking-west

I stopped at Buckeye Bend to rest and sit under their canopy for about a half hour.

 

Otters

River Otters live in the Estero Americano. On my recent visit I saw six of them—five in one group and a solo Otter near Whale’s Tail. This one appeared to have caught a fish.

otter-with-fish

Four other otters were nearby. It wasn’t long before they saw me.

 

When they became aware of me they swam across the estuary to the opposite shore.

a-family-of-otters

This is the group of four other otters nearby.

As I had noticed before on Tomales Bay, the otters swam toward the sun so that soon I was seeing their shadowed side.

swimming-toward-the-sun

Looking into the sun makes it harder to see and photograph them. I do not know if they swim toward the sun instinctively or whether they know that this behavior makes them harder to see. Perhaps it had simply been a coincidence that their “escape” from my attention in both cases required them to swim toward the sun.

One of them popped up to have a good look at me.

otter-looks-at-estuarian

I think they eventually decided I was taking too much interest in their activities. One by one each of them climbed out of the water into some shoreline shrubbery, and disappeared.

Tomorrow: Buckeyes

 

 

Bobcats

Several people have talked about seeing Bobcats in Estero Americano. Until Wednesday, though, Bobcats had eluded me.

Then, on the paddle back to the car, soon after photographing the deer, three tawny figures moved along the Marin shore.

Predatory animals travel across the ground with a distinctive fluidity quite unlike prey animals such as deer and rabbits which are more prone to bounding than slinking across the landscape.

These three quickly ducked behind coyote brush and disappeared from view.

There was enough time to snap only two photos. My predatory friends were so far away I wondered what might appear in the camera’s memory card—coyotes, maybe? I’d seen Coyotes at the Estero before.

Here’s what appeared:

three-bobcats

Camera are a good accessory for a myopic paddler. Two of them zoomed in:bobcats-zoomed

My personal holy grail is a mountain lion. So far, no luck. Someday…..

 

 

 

Oh, Deer!

Lots of deer are in the Estero Americano watershed in early November. The hunter and I had seen a number of deer running to escape coyotes. A couple of deer plunged into the water to swim to the other shore.

Looking through binoculars I spotted deer throughout the whole of Wednesday’s paddle. Most of the deer were outside handheld camera range.

But on the paddle back I got close enough to this pair of deer to pull out my camera and take some pictures.

oh-deerHere’s the buck, zoomed in a bit.

mr-buck

These two stood stock still, as if they weren’t real deer at all, but as if they were made of fiberglass. Except for their heads and necks, which turned in perfect harmony to follow the passage of my boat.

Tomorrow, Bobcats!

 

Barn Owls & ?

Halfway out to the ocean the Estero widens. It was still calm when I got there. Quiet and peaceful. Good for the body and soul.

midway-calm

The familiar pair of Barn Owls—Barney and Betty—kept watch over this peaceful scene. They’ve presided over this stretch of water for some time now.

barn-owl-pair-still-there

The hardly blinked an eye as a drifted past their cave in the wall of the hanging gardens. I saw this pair last May and again in July. To see more photos of these owls, click on those links. It was good to see them again.

There’s something about birds of prey that catch the eye.

Can anyone help identify this one? It appeared to be somewhat larger than a Red-Tailed Hawk, but it was pretty high in the sky, so hard to know exactly how big it really was.

It was soaring without much wing flapping.

bird-of-prey-buckeye-bend

Pretty sure it’s not: Osprey, Red-Tailed Hawk,White Tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Bald or Golden Eagle. . Best guess is an immature eagle. Would anyone wish to venture a guess?

Tomorrow—deer.