With the Cow Patty Pageant just around the corner, Jono and I decided to paddle Estero Americano at an unhurried pace today.
Warm sun and almost no wind made for placid paddling. Just past halfway to the beach we passed the low cliffs along the southern shore, pausing to look at the ferns and trees growing on the north-face of the cliff.
Right at the edge of the water at the foot of the cliff we found the body of a raptor that had died recently.
Trying to identify a dead bird is surprisingly difficult. Yes, it is easier to get close and take detailed pictures. But pictures are only part of the story. The way birds animate themselves is often what distinguishes them. It’s much harder to identify a bird without seeing its behavior, hearing its voice, watching it fly.
The Sibley Field Guide shows that most raptors have yellow feet and hooked bills that are yellow at the base and dark at the tip. This one had a white breast, and died in open marshland, perhaps a Northern Harrier?
Though we had hoped to see lots of birds and maybe a river otter or two, there was not a lot a wildlife activity in the Estero today. A few snowy egrets.
A solitary deer ranged along the south shore.
Up near the launching area a cow relaxed on the bank.
Large herds of dairy cows graze right up to the edge of the Estero. Because of them, the water smells.
Makes me wonder…. are the dairying operations (and nearby poultry farms) adjacent to the Estero polluting it to the point that wildlife avoids the area?