Exploring the Higher Waters of the Closed Russian River Estuary

Saturday October 18, 2014 Jenner CA.

It looked like it was going to be another fine day so I headed down to Jenner to kayak for the day. The sun was out and there was just a breeze as I put my boat in the water at the ramp.

Since the ocean was going to low tide and I already had spent the last couple days down near the mouth, I decided to go up the river a bit and explore around the shoreline. The water in the estuary is about eight feet right now, which is higher than normal. This means, most of the places I stop for breaks and the places I get out to go to shore aren’t there any more. Most of that stuff is under water so it’s all different.

This all means it ‘s a good time to look for new places which work for when the water is high like it is now. The water level of the estuary rises higher when the mouth is closed than it usually does with the winter rains, even during the river’s flooding. When the river floods, all the water just blows out more sand at the mouth and the height of the river stays down, but it does flow a bit faster.

So, anyway, I headed on up the river and just past Penny Island, I ran into these seals. There are two of them there, but they are not always easy to spot, as they posture to look like logs.seals


This one was watching me closely, but it’s seen me often and I don’t expect it to move off as I pass and it doesn’t.seal2


The same seal from a different angle as I pass by it, fairly close.harborseal


The other seal stays put too.seal


As I was taking it’s picture a cormorant popped up behind it looking up onto the log which had another cormorant on it, which is not visible in this picture.cormorant


The cormorant popped out of the water and jumped up on the log and forced the other cormorant off the log.
The other cormorant is just visible in this picture.cormorantseal


I continued on up the river poking around looking for new places to hang out with the water so high.

Here I am passing eagle’s landing and headed on up the river.eagleslanding


I stopped in this spot for a bit to enjoy the view.spot


I made it up to the muskrat nest area and poked around a bit.

Here, I’m looking at a new muskrat nest. They are made out of a pile of sticks or reeds, usually a mixture and are very similar to a packrat nest.muskratnest


I poked around quite a bit in that area looking for a place to land without getting my feet wet, but didn’t find anyplace.

I sat in that area for quite some time in this spot, looking back down towards the town of Jenner.russianriver


After I was all rested up from all the poking around I did, I headed back down the river on the south shoreline. I was going to cross over to the north shore and look for any birds along the shore, but just as I started off, a lone kayaker came down that side and spooked all the birds, so I stayed on the south side and headed on down the river.

I ran into this merganser duck splashing around in the water and as I looked closer, I could see it was trying to swallow something and was having a hard time doing it. Looks like maybe it was a little eel or something like that. It finally got it down and did the little dance birds do to finish off swallowing a fish or whatever.merganser


A bunch of cormorants had landed on the log the seals were on, on my way up.

Cormorants with the town of Jenner in the background.jenner


I haven’t figured the cormorants colors and spots out yet to know which is male and which is female. To complicate matters, most birds look even more different when they are immature. This is the first time I’ve noticed the two whitish brown feathers on each wing. Maybe someday, I’ll figure it out?cormorant2


With the water level up high, Penny Island is about three quarters or more flooded. I think the east end where the house was is still above water, but haven’t been ashore on the island to check it out. Right now, the place I usually get out to get on the island on the east end is not a good place to get out, so a new spot is needed.

I knew of a little creek like place going away from the main house in my earlier excursions and was thinking if I could find the entrance to that, I might be able to land on the island or even get into the center of it with my boat. The center of the island is lower than most of the sides, so goes under water more than the sides. With the higher water, the creek like place fills with water.

I found the spot I think the little creek enters the island, but it’s too full of brush to find the spot to enter.

I poked around in this spot where I think the little creek like place enters the island.pennyisland


When the water goes down, I’ll have to take a walk into that little creek area and see if I can find a spot to enter when the water is high.

I paddled a ways down the north side of Penny Island and took this picture of the river’s mouth area, which is still closed.
Even though it was low tide, the ocean was still breaking over the jetty. There are supposed to be some big swells this weekend according to the weatherman.rivermouth


I figured I’d done enough exploring for one day and was pretty tired out, so headed on in.

The gauge at the visitor center says the water level of the estuary is about 8.2 feet. You can see the visitor center deck is about nine feet, so I expect they will open the river’s mouth sometime next week.gauge


I went on home with intentions to do some more work clearing around my new well site, but only made it to the coach for a good nap.

I did finally make it out into the yard, but all I had energy to do was chair hop and enjoy the rest of the day, until it got dark.

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