Sea Lion Eats Steelhead, a Bobcat and a Rainy Paddle Around the Estuary

Thursday January 28, 2016 Jenner CA.

Checking with the weather guys

I checked in with the weather guys this morning and they said maybe some showers after three PM so I was good to go, but they were wrong.

I headed on down to Jenner and put my boat in the water. It was overcast with low wind, so it wasn’t bad out, at all.

I headed across to Penny Island and a little rain spit on me, so it looked like the weather guys were way off. I decided it would be a good time to pull into the little channel on the upper end of Penny island and put my rain pants on while I still could, so that’s what I did.

Now it could go ahead and rain. I was sitting in that channel when I saw a big splash right across the river from me.

This is what I was seeing. Most likely a seal with a big fish.splash


But no, it was a sea lion with a big fish. It’s getting it into position to swallow it whole, down the hatch. Those are fish eggs, so this was a female and likely a steelhead. It could be a salmon too for all I know, but mostly steelhead are coming into the river to spawn right now.roe


The idea seems to be to get the fish in, mouth first and try to choke it down whole. He’s doing the choke it down in this picture. It usually takes a minute or so to force it down the hatch as they jerk their heads into the air. This also helps keep the fish from being shared with any others.sealion


The rain showers had stopped for now as I paddled on up the river to a nice day. I’m going by eagle’s landing here, headed up the river about as far as you can see to the muskrat area.river


The muskrat nest area is by that green grass up ahead where I stopped for a bit.muskrat


It started to sprinkle again, so I decided to move up to what I call the Grotto, just up the river a hundred yards or so. I used to call the spot, , Dead deer Gulch as I’d seen more then one deer die there, but the place was just too nice for a name like that, so Grotto it is now.

I pulled into the Grotto which is under some dense trees. On the shore right in front of me, I could see where someone had come ashore with their boat. From this I could deduce that someone had got out of their boat here and sat and had hot tea and a sandwich while enjoying the spot yesterday. It’s a nice spot full of big ferns and under some pepperwood trees. A bit on the muddy side though. I could see the boat marks and the foot prints in the mud.grotto


I was able to deduce all that because I read Dan’s blog last night.

Dan’s blog

I started to leave the Grotto, but as I pulled out a heavy rain shower started, so I decided the best place to be was back in the Grotto under the dense trees, so I turned and went back in here to wait out the shower.grotto2


That shower lasted almost an hour. As I waited the tree was getting saturated by the rain and it was starting to drip big drops of rain. Eventually, the drops falling off the tree were putting more water on me then if I just went out in it, so I moved on out in it as it was starting to lighten up some.

The rain wasn’t too bad. I pulled my day pack over the open cockpit in front of me and that helps keep my legs warmer.

I was looking around and spotted these three deer up on the ridge behind where I was sitting.deers


It didn’t look like the rain was going to let up, so I started working my way down the river.

As I paddled by this spot, I spotted a bobcat on the bank there to the left of the dead tree in the same place I’d spotted another one a year or so. It’s raining a bit, so I don’t like to take the camera out,


The cat is all wet from the rain showers and is preening it’s fur.cat4


I sat and watched it preen for awhile, then the rain showers picked up. It must of heard the rain shower coming as it rushed off into the bushes right before it hit.

The bobcat is moving into the bushes right before a heavy rain shower hits.bobcat2


Here’s a little video of the bobcat on the river bank preening.

Bobcat on the river bank

I continued on down towards the boat ramp. The rain had mostly stopped, so I continued on down to the lower end of Penny island. I could see the river’s mouth was open with lots of big waves breaking on the rocks down that way.

I’m looking down to the open river’s mouth from the end of Penny Island.cormorants


Eventually, I paddled down closer to the open mouth and sat for a bit and watched the big waves crash. I did note there were no harbor seals resting on the beach today.

I was headed back upstream when I heard a big splash behind me, which turned out to be this sea lion which went by me fairly close. It let me know it’s displeasure by barking loudly as it passed and they do have a loud bark and big teeth too. :O)lion


It dove and was gone. I continued on and ran into a bunch of harbor seals in front of the lower end of Penny Island. I’d say there were over fifty of them in the water here. Not sure what they were doing, but I didn’t see anything that looked like they were hunting.seals


As I pulled in near the boat ramp, I saw what I at first thought was a bunch of river otters swimming over by the boat ramp, going up river. But it turned out to be a bunch of harbor seals, but I couldn’t make out what they were up to. They continued on up the river and I put in at the ramp. Usually I don’t see a pack of harbor seals this big in this area, so I know they were up to something.sealpod


I put the boat on the car and went on home for the day.

My plan for the day was to try to set up my appointment with the VA for an allergy appointment, but I had no idea where the medical center for that was? So, I called my VA caregiver and asked her. She didn’t know either, but looked it up and said it was in Martinez and gave me their phone number. Now where the heck is Martinez?

I looked that up and it was ninety miles from my house and down in the city, north of Oakland, not good for me who doesn’t like to drive in those types of city conditions at my age. I decided to think about it a bit.

The VA has some kind of plan that might let me move that to an outside medical place, that is closer, if I qualify, so I will call them and see if I can change that or not, otherwise, I might have to bite the bullet and drive on down there, which I wouldn’t be looking forward to as I’m sure I will have multiple appointments for this.

Otherwise, I had a nice day even with the rain.

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2 Responses to Sea Lion Eats Steelhead, a Bobcat and a Rainy Paddle Around the Estuary

  1. Bob says:

    Hi Dan,
    I find that when I ignore the weather guys, I win lots more than I lose. Some of the nicest times are the calm before and after the storms. And yes, the sea lions could do me some serious damage. I trust the harbor seals much more than the sea lions. I’m thankful there are no elephant seals in the estuary.

  2. dangurney51 says:

    You had a great outing yesterday, and I was thinking I was smart to stay home in the rain. You’re a loyal paddler. No one can call you a fair-weather fan of the estuary.

    Great photos of the bobcat, Bob. Good video, too.

    That sea lion would have given me quite a fright. From the internet, I’ve learned that once in a while they’ve been aggressive to kayakers. I give them as much space as they ask for because if they wanted to, they could make me pretty wet and miserable.

    Hope to see you out there again soon.

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