Deer, Pelicans and Hunting Sea Lions in the Russian River Estuary

Saturday December 27, 2014 Jenner CA.

I put in at Jenner today and paddled across the river to Penny Island where I was sitting and Steve showed up in his kayak from someplace up the river. Right next to us on the island were these two deer feeding along the shoreline. They didn’t seem to mind our presence too much and continued to feed.deer

 

While we were sitting there, this big sea lion came up close and seemed to be giving Steve some bull. Steve shouted back at it. Most of the time these guys don’t come that close.sealion

 

What are the sea lions doing in the estuary now?

The muddy water is starting to clear up and the big spawning fish are no longer safe from all the things that want to catch and eat them. As the water clears, the sea lions come in from the ocean and start hunting for the steelhead and salmon that come into the river to spawn. If the water gets muddy again they will leave and come back again when the water starts to clear again. The muddy water is one of the few things that protect the spawning fish from things that want to catch them, including the fishermen.

Headed for the river’s mouth area

While we were there, Kenny showed up in his kayak and we headed down to the river’s mouth area at a very slow pace.

Along the way we went by these birds resting on the shore. Seagulls and brown pelicans.birds

 

A little closer look at some of those birds. They seem to be doing some preening.pels

 

The view out the open river’s mouth into the ocean

I followed Kenny out into the open river’s mouth where we sat and watched for a good while. It’s safe here right now because the tide is coming in, so there is no outgoing of the ocean current that we have to be concerned about.ken

 

We could see this fishing boat out in the ocean in front of us. There is no fishing right out in front of the mouth, so these guys must be just outside the no fishing zone.fishermen

 

We also could see quite a few surfers right out there in front of us. Is that a guy over on the right, just about to get dumped on?surfer

 

Pelicans getting their mating plumage

There were some pelicans sitting on a rock right behind us. They seem to be getting their mating plumage. Reddish bills and yellow on the headspelicans

 

Steve noticed that they can either show off their bright bills or sorta hide the red when it’s not appropriate. These guys are a good example of showing or hiding the red bill. They can show a lot more of that red bill when they want to.pelicansred

 

We left that area and headed on up the back channel of Penny Island where we saw these ducks, which we passed by.ducks

 

Sea lion gets a big fish

While sitting, we saw a big sea lion swim by with a seal following it. I watched to see who might have a big fish. The sea lion did. I  think the sea lion may have stolen the fish from the harbor seal as I don’t usually see harbor seals mixing with the sea lions when they are feeding.

This was the best I could do for a photo of the sea lion with the big fish. This indicates big fish are coming into the river to spoon right now.sealionfish

 

We paddled up the back channel and dropped off Kenny at the end, as he had some project he had to go take care of. Steve and I continued on up to Paddy’s rock, where the sun was starting to go behind the hill there, taking the sun away from us, making it a bit chilly.

We passed by these birds, a grebe there in the foreground. Most of the birds that left during the recent rain storm have returned, but not most of the coots or the cormorants.grebe

 

We waited for the boat ramp to clear

We headed back to the boat ramp, but we could see there were quite a few people pulling in with their boats, so we headed down to the west end of Penny island to kill some time to let the people get done with things on the ramp.

The sun was going down as we sat there.sunset

 

When we saw the boat ramp clear, we headed in for the day and took our boats out and went on home.

Nice day paddling around in the water, especially for a winter day.

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