Northern California has been drying out since last week’s big storms.
As I write this entry Tuesday evening, an atmospheric river of rainwater stretches halfway across the Pacific and is taking aim at this part of North America. We’re in for more drenching rains. At least 2 inches—and perhaps more—is forecast to begin falling tomorrow.
This morning I drove out to Estero Americano to see how high the water level is. The mouth is open and the Estero’s water level has fallen dramatically. Runoff from the coming storms will be able to rush down the Estero’s channels and drain out into Bodega Bay. The bad smell that had been pervading the place has diminished.
I decided to paddle at Jenner today. Wildlife enthusiasts would have been rewarded by the sight of many animal residents present in the Russian River’s estuary today. People watchers, however, would have had to settle for seeing only one specimen floating on the estuary today—the Estuarian.
Small flocks of Bufflehead Ducks were scattered about.
Just downstream of the launch ramp a River Otter climbed up on a rock. It didn’t see me at first, but once it did, it quickly dove back into the river to swim upstream past the interpretive building and out of sight.
Many Gulls and Seals gathered near the mouth. I stayed well back so as not to disturb them and, just as important to me, to keep myself out of the strong currents running downriver and out into the Pacific.
As I made my way back to Penny Island some Goldeneye Ducks swam by. Two types of Goldeneyes are common on the west coast, Common Goldeneyes and Barrow’s Goldeneyes. The fellow on the right, I believe, is a Common Goldeneye. The bird on the left in this photo is one I cannot identify. My best guess: immature female Common Goldeneye.
A mature female Common Goldeneye Duck swam by.
A pair of Western Gulls joined my solo tea party on a gravelly beach on the western end of Penny Island. They each got a little bit of a RyVita cracker as compensation for posing.
Further upstream a Great Blue Heron stood among rocks along the river’s north shore.
Several pairs of Merganser Ducks commandeered the gravel bar in the lee of Paddy’s Rock. The males are in their black-and-white breeding plumage.
Three hours after starting out it was time to head home. Some Western Grebes ventured near enough to get some photos.
In a few weeks these birds will develop breeding plumage that will improve their looks. The whites will be whiter, the darks darker. The line down the neck where the white feathers meet the dark feathers will sharpen.