Richardson Bay, January 31, 2017

Weather forecasts predict rainy weather soon. I was hoping to get one more estuarine outing in January.

Lyrinda emailed me to suggest a Richardson Bay outing on today’s midday high tide and in light northeast winds. I had not visited Richardson Bay since my trip with nephew John back in August, 2016.

Soon after starting we passed a snoozing Pelican.

Pelican on Piling

Many animals rest near the yachts and houseboats along Sausalito’s shore. They are accustomed to human spectators and learn to tolerate curiosity and cameras.

Lyrinda approaching a flotilla of Harbor Seals

Many harbor seals haul out on docks and logs and rafts.

Just a few of many scores of seals

North of here, where I usually paddle, hunting is common. Birds won’t let a paddler get within 200 feet.

Here, near the marinas, it’s a different story. This Western Grebe didn’t seem alarmed even though it was within about 30 feet of the camera.

Western Grebe

Cormorants were abundant.

Cormorant looking for herring, probably.

Eight or more Great Blue Herons stood watch under the Highway 101 bridge that crosses over Richardson Bay. The last of the flooding current carried us slowly toward them. Paddles resting across cockpits, cameras busy, we floated by, very near them.

Great Blue Heron under the 101 bridge

We paddled toward Mill Valley to E. Blithedale Ave. In the marshes of Bayfront Park we saw many shorebirds.

Aptly named Greater Yellowlegs

Least Sandpipers (I think.)

Least Sandpiper? This bird bobbed its tail in a distinctive way.

And many other birds as well—Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Canada Geese, and others.

On the way back we picked our way among the many houseboats of Waldo Point. We paddled for three hours and covered a little more than nine miles.

Great Blue at Waldo Point, Sausalito

If you need to escape the dizzying dismay of your daily newsfeed—as I do—I recommend getting outside in nature and looking into the eyes of wild things.

A map of our journey:

Monitoring Estero Americano/Storm Waves

Here’s a report on a quick trip out to the Estero Americano before the imminent three-day onslaught of rain begins.

I was curious to see if the heavy surf associated with recent storms might have closed the mouth of the Estero which would allow its waters to rise again. Sure enough, this appears to have happened.

Water is high enough to top the channel

 

Seeing the high water made me want to visit the coast to have a look at the big waves implied by the Estero’s high waters.

Big breakers on Doran Beach

Big combers thundered on Doran Beach. Despite the fact that it was low tide when these photos were taken waves washed so far up the beach that they almost reached the dunes.

This beach usually has small waves that are safe enough for youngsters to play in. Not today!

Even from the vantage point of standing on the dunes behind the beach the waves felt threatening. Out in Bodega Bay proper, huge Mavericks-like waves were rising and breaking in places I have never seen waves break before. Jackie Sones over at Natural History of Bodega Head reports the waves reached 26 feet at the buoys. Her blog reports on these waves, too.

After 30 minutes of mesmerizing wave-watching I retreated to the relative calm of the old sewage ponds adjacent to the Bodega Bay water treatment facility nestled between Highway 1 and Bodega Harbor.

I heard some quacking and walked around looking for the ducks. There they were, swimming in the bottom of this normally dry abandoned pond

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard

With a Great Blue Heron in the bargain.

Stand still for the camera!

Jenner December 29, 2016

This morning I took my son-in-law paddling on the Russian River Estuary in fine winter weather. We saw the pair of Bald Eagles who are often there.

It’s good to have binoculars when kayaking.

We saw Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, a few Mallards, flocks of Buffleheads, and a half dozen Mergansers.

We visited with Bob Noble, the only other paddler we saw. More at Bob at Bob’s Eyes.

The mouth of the river is open.

 

Waqqas enjoyed his first paddle.

 

 

Estero Americano Dec 5, 2016

The rains have added enough water to the Estero Americano to swell the channel near its banks.

high-water-ea-dec-5

Being able to see over the banks of the channel allows for a much more pleasant trip away from the parking lot through the dairy pasturelands.

I saw a number of birds and otters on the way out, but I couldn’t approach them as closely as usual. The wild animals scattered before they came within the reach of my camera.

I did manage to get this photo a couple of dogs who were out on an unsupervised romp through the Estero.

two-dogs-ea-dec-5

The beagle brayed.

Squeaky neoprene cold-weather gloves were the reason why wildlife was so elusive. They squawked with each paddle stroke.

squeaky-gloves-ea-dec-5

Once I took them off I was able to do get better photos. Here’s a Great Blue Heron.

gbhe-ea-dec-5

All the usual residents were in attendance and accounted for today, among them: Cormorants, Buffleheads, Coots, River Otters, Barn Owls, Vultures,Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, smaller hawks I could not identify and, in the surf near the beach, California Sea Lions.

A map of the outing:

Ten Miles on Tomales Bay 3

A Great Blue Heron stood on a rock along the shore….

gbhe-1-tmotI approached, slowly, snapping photos.

gbhe-5-tmot

The heron turned around and sprang into the air.

gbhe-takeoff-tmot

These beautiful birds are light. They have legs so strong that they can leap into the air and, with just one powerful wingbeat, take to the sky.

This one flew up the shore and around a point, just out of sight. It had landed on a rock where I encountered him a second time.

great-blue-0-tmot

Again he flew—this time in the opposite direction, back towards his original rock.

That pleased me. Sometimes birds will fly again and again in the same direction, each time a little bit further up the shore in the direction I am paddling and we repeat the encounter repeatedly—to their obvious annoyance.

I was able to take a short video of this bird shortly after taking the photo above.

When you watch the video, you can hear the bird’s ancient voice. It seems to express displeasure at my interference.

I’ll post that video tomorrow.