Nearly a year ago, the 2017 spring rains that had filled the Estero Americano quit abruptly right after a downpour that breached the sand dam at the mouth. The Estero drained out fully and became tidal.
Spring, summer, and fall water levels remained low enough to discourage me from paddling there for the rest of 2017.
Happily, rain* has returned to California. The Estero has filled up and pleasant paddling levels are here for now. Yesterday I was able to paddle out to the mouth for the first time in ten months.
In many places, water has flooded above the channel walls and spilled into the adjacent fields to form wide and shallow ponds. It’s easy to accidentally veer out of the channel and temporarily lose the “path” through the pastures. If the upcoming rains add two more feet of depth to the Estero’s waters, the channel will become unnecessary and the Estero will become a vast and navigable inland lake.
Halfway out to the beach at the Hanging Gardens I noticed that the hole in the wall where the barn owls once lived does not have the telltale guano at the entrance that suggests it to be in active use, but perhaps it is.
I was happy yesterday to see a barn owl nearby on a tree in the hanging garden. I had not seen either of the resident owls in the spring of 2017 and had been concerned about them.
Near to the beach a Great Blue Heron stood on the shore.
I enjoyed a thermos of hot black tea, a can of kipper snacks, and a mozzarella cheese stick as I watched big waves roar into shore against a strong offshore wind.
Getting outdoors in January feels like quite a privilege after spending a good chunk of winter back east with my grandson and their family. It got pretty cold back there.
*Rain has returned, but we are behind seasonal averages so far this season and may be headed back into a drought.