The Turkey Vultures Get Their Share of Salmon

Friday October 9, 2015 Jenner CA.

Coolant leak

I topped off my radiator coolant before I left for Jenner this morning to make sure I had enough in there for what was going to leak out while on the road. It’s a small leak so I should be ok, or the car should be anyway.

The sun was out and the wind was down as I arrived at the boat ramp today and there were very few others on the water.

I dressed for a warm day and paddled across the river to Penny Island and decided to go on up the river a ways, not far. I paddled along here with Penny Island on the right.russianriver


I passed by this great blue heron doing some fishing by the shoreline. There are a lot of little tiny fish in the water right now, about two inches long. I don’t know what kind they are, but the heron was doing well feeding on them.heron



I worked my way along the shore up to this spot I call Dead Deer Grotto where I sat and sorta napped for a bit with maybe a little day dreaming thrown in too.grotto


Just before I pulled under the trees in the grotto, I saw a turkey vulture sitting on the hill just above it. As I watched  this other vulture flew in and pushed the other bird off it’s perch.vultures


Eventually I got tired of sitting in that spot and moved across the river headed to Paddy’s rock where I spotted these merganser ducks resting on the gravel.mergansers


I paddled around Paddy’s rock and ran into this great blue heron posing like this, low to the water to catch little fish.heron2


What do the vultures have over there

On past the heron I could see some turkey vultures doing something up ahead so I approached to see what they were up to.turkeys


It seems they had found a dead salmon, likely from a seal or sea lion kill that got away. Note the vulture on the right has a blackish head which I think is the young bird from the nest this summer.  It stayed as I approached when most of the other birds left and for that it got some of the fish while most of the other birds had to wait their turn.turkeyfish


While  I was watching the vultures, these two showed up just a little off shore and checked out the vultures eating the fish. The seagull went over and joined the birds and I was watching to see if the seal would go to shore and take the fish from the vultures, but it didn’t do that.seal


I moved closer to get a better view of the big fish. I assume this is a salmon as that’s’ what’s running right now. I’m not good at identifying most of these big

Added: Pete in Comments identified this fish as a King/Chinook Salmon in the above picture. Pete fishes the river around the Guerneville Area.Thanks Pete

Open river’s mouth

I let the vultures get back to eating their fish and headed down river towards the river’s open mouth area.

Here I’m traveling through the fresh water weeds that grew during the time the mouth was closed. There’s some coots off to the right down there eating the green weeds.weeds


There were a couple kingfishers up ahead flying off and back onto this stump and I was able to get a couple pictures from a distance.fisher


Here’s the coots eating some of the green weeds. They come here during the fall to feed on these weeds which are usually dried up and brown by now which they dive down to eat. But this year most of the weeds are still green and they still seem to like to eat them. The open mouth is in the background where I’m headed.coots


My spot

I pulled into my spot in the open mouth and sat and watched the goings on for awhile. The ocean was fairly rough today.mouth


There were lots of birds and harbor seals on the sandy beach across from me.birds


At least until a helicopter flew by and scared all the birds into the air.rivermouth


I was getting tired out, being by the ocean and all, so I headed on in for the day.

I paddled through the weeds on the way back to the boat ramp.jenner


I went on home for a nap and then Steve came by with some gaskets to fix my car’s coolant leak which I will eventually fix. We shot the bull for a bit and that was about it for the day.

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3 Responses to The Turkey Vultures Get Their Share of Salmon

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Bob,

    I was out at the RR mouth today (Saturday) and saw that the mouth has closed up again. Big waves were crashing on the beach side, sometimes washing over the new sand bar plugging the mouth.

    There were a lot of harbor seals in the river. I spotted a lone seagull sitting attentively in the water, and sure enough, soon saw a couple of harbor seals munching away on a big fish, a salmon, I think. It got pretty windy out there by mid afternoon.


  2. admin says:

    Hi Pete,
    Thanks for identifying that fish. I’ve heard the story about the roe eating, but I haven’t witnessed it on this river yet. There were some sea lions hunting in the estuary today too. I’m happy not to be a fish.

  3. Pete says:

    Hi Bob, that is a dead King/Chinook Salmon in your picture, it looks like a seal took one bite in the stomach area and left the rest of the carcass. Many times seals will take one bite out of a female Salmon or steelhead and leave the rest of the fish for the birds so to speak, most of us fishermen think it is because that’s where the roe is in a female salmonid and the seal is not hungry enough to eat the whole fish.

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