Up Cheney Creek

Jim G and I paddled into the mouth of Bodega Harbor this morning.

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We made our way along along the north side of the sand spit on which Doran Regional Park sits.

We spotted loons as we passed behind the Bodega Coast Guard Station.

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Jim noticed something feeding of the smolts near the outflow of Cheney Creek—a Leopard Shark.

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It swam beneath my kayak twice, lingering for a few seconds below me. Perhaps it was simply enjoying a moment out of the sun in the shadow of my boat.

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We lingered with the shark for a few minutes before letting the last of the flood tide carry us up into Cheney Gulch.

The navigable part of the creek ends near the Highway One over crossing. We turned around when it was not possible to paddle further.

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Jim had a little trouble paddling his canoe. The wind wanted pushed his canoe off course. Once he kneeled midships, the canoe was more manageable. He had no problem getting back to our cars.

Here is a map of our outing.

This was the first time I’ve paddled at Bodega Harbor in years. I think I’ll return before too much time goes by.

Visiting the Russian River Estuary

The Russian River Estuary is filling up now that the mouth has closed. My wife and I got up early this morning to take our canoe out to see the wildlife out there and to pick up whatever garbage we could find.

Jenner 6:3:16

It was calm when we arrived.

We paddled out to the mouth and then upriver stopping at a pasture for a break. We saw about 70 Harbor Seals at the (now closed) mouth, Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Loons, Mallard Ducks, Caspian Terns, Pelicans, Canadian Geese, and Turkey Vultures. Although we hoped to see something a bit more unusual, specifically River Otter or perhaps, a Bald Eagle, none showed themselves to us.

All along the way, we found flotsam and jetsam to pluck out of the river and take to the garbage receptacle at Jenner launch site.

We stopped by the visitor center to buy a gift for our daughter’s best friends newborn baby girl.

A wonderful morning followed by a fantastic creekside lunch we enjoyed on our way home at Fork’s restaurant.

Map of today’s outing:

 

Kingfisher Day!

What a fine morning!

Although the day started with a (welcome) rain shower, the rain clouds parted by mid morning to let the sun shine on the Russian River.

Landscape, Russian River

On the drive down the river to the Jenner launch site, I saw a bald eagle winging his way upstream towards Duncans Mills. That did not bode well for getting photographs of bald eagles today, but I allowed myself to hope for a photograph of a kingfisher.

When I arrived at the launch ramp, Bob and Ray were ready to paddle off toward the mouth. I would follow them, 15 minutes behind. Storms in the Pacific had stirred up some big surf. The waves were so loud I decided to get out of my kayak and walk over the sandbar to have a look. It was just about low tide when I took this picture, so I knew that the waves would come higher up the beach as the day wore on. I did not linger there long.

Surf Scene

Good thing, too. Some of the waves were pretty scary. A sneaker wave would have no trouble sweeping a walker into trouble.

Big Wave

It was time to paddle away from the mouth.

Across from Paddy’s Rock kingfishers were flying from tree to tree staying just out of the reach of my camera lens. Although kingfishers are commonly present on the lower reaches of the Russian River, they can be one of the most difficult birds to photograph from a kayak. They keep a good distance away from most paddlers and, while they perch right along the banks of the river, they tend to go just far enough into the branches of trees to stay hidden from view. It seems as if they watch kayakers lift a camera into position and. as they see a finger get near the shutter, they take off and fly 50 to 100 yards further down the river, mocking the photographer with their their raspy, sassy call.

I followed one kingfisher, a female, upstream toward the highway bridge, trying to keep far enough away to avoid her flying away. Finally she settled into a tree and started fishing. I had never actually seen a kingfisher dive into the river before. This bird dove into the river twice. She got a fish on one of her dives; the other I couldn’t tell because she flew up into the trees far enough to be hidden from view.

Fishing Kingfisher

Female Kingfisher

She was fishing in the shadows of the trees growing along the river. Of the 30+ photos, this one is the best.

Going further upstream, I caught sight of another kingfisher, this one, a male, in full sun.

Perching Kingfisher in Sun

Males do not have the brown markings on their breasts.

Fishing in the same section of the river between the highway bridge and Willowcreek were some loons fishing in a group of four. Here’s a photo of one of them.

Loony Loon

In the next day or two, I’ll post a short movie of the loons fishing.

Here’s a map of my paddle today. (Click on the title words, “Kingfisher Paddle” too see the whole map.)