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!

Dawn Paddle, Russian River: River Otter Attacks Heron

At dawn the usual gray overcast from the coast was absent. Camp was still and quiet. I got dressed and wheeled the canoe down to the river directly—without stopping for coffee.

Dawn Paddle 7:20:16

The River was glassy and warm enough to send mists curling aloft from the surface and toward the sky. Dawn is magical.

A female Mallard was breakfasting in algae growing on near the island downriver not far from camp.

Female Mallard, DMCC 7:20:16

A Great Blue Heron worked the nearby shallows .

Heron in Mist

It was watching me carefully as I took its photo. I got too close, and it flew away downriver. We encountered each other repeatedly—like the Heron, I was making my way downriver, too.

GBH 7:20:16

The Heron posed again and again.

GBH 7:20:16-2

Near the end of Freezeout Road the Heron stood along a heavily wooded section of the river bank. Suddenly, out from the cover of the brushy woods, a River Otter sprang out at the Heron and came within it whisker-length of biting its legs. The Heron leapt straight into the sky, as Herons do, and flew upriver, squawking loudly and repeatedly in its hoarse, raspy voice. It had had enough of me.

The River Otter’s attack happened suddenly and was over so quickly that I was not able to capture it on film.

Cute as they may be, River Otters are ferocious creatures. This was the first time I saw a River Otter attack a bird. I have read that they sometimes hunt together and take Brown Pelicans. There is video from the River Otter Ecology Project of a River Otter in a standoff with a Coyote on Tomales Bay.

As I returned to the beach in late morning, a bird not seen that often flew overhead and landed on the island near camp: a Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle 7:20:16

The rewards of paddling early in the day are well worth the extra effort.

And, after a brisk morning’s paddle on the Russian River, the coffee tasted especially good.