Title Image

Title Image


This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Estero Americano

The 4-day Presidents' Day weekend allowed for a type of adventure that I am hoping to embark on more in the future: waterway exploration.

Recently, my co-teacher and I both becam
e boat kayak inflatable craft owners, opening up areas on the map we have been dying to explore.

The first voyage was to be the Estero Americano/Americano Creek, an estuary that begins as a trickle in Cotati. We were to launch from Valley Ford, where the creek starts to get deep. Estero Americano then defines the boundary between motherland Sonoma and beautiful, but vile Marin.

After collecting some snacks and supplies at the fine deli in town, the craft was prepped and ready to get wet.

It was a chilly, but calm morning and we eased down the estuary enjoying the peaceful surroundings, the green hills and the occasional Bufflehead skimming the water's surface.

About 3 miles in, a medium-sized burrow was spotted. We decided to stop to investigate, and eat lunch.

the burrow

Nearby our landing spot and the burrow, on a small stone rise, remnants of a feast were discovered.

Alongside with the wing and entrails, several pellets were also found.

wing detail

Is this the feast of one creature? A dining spot that they frequent? Was this spot connected to the burrow -- Burrowing Owls had been reported in the area the previous week.

Or were there two feedings here? A raptor surprised by another bird or mammal?

This was our conversation as the weather began to turn. The wind picked up and the sky darkened with the threat of rain. Additionally, we feared a lowering tide would make travel upstream difficult, so a return to the launch point was in order.

This fear was realized, as a third of the way back we were grounded several times. We decided to take to foot, deflating our craft and hiking through farmland.

Here, hovering White-tailed Kites and curious Northern Harriers watched over our march through the mud, capping our inaugural aquatic journey with fantastic aerial displays.


  1. Congratulations on your new craft! I highly recommend Drakes Estero for local waterside wildlife watching. Sharks, rays, tidepools, seals, owls, a heron/egret colony and more. Watch the tides there though.

  2. I am jealous. The burrow looks very muskratty to me. Looks like it may be underwater at times being in the side of the bank. I don't think a burrowing owl would use a burrow like that. However that does not explain scat or the bird wing. My impression is that muskrats are primarily vegetarian.

    That is some weird looking poo though. Maybe the Codger has an idea but I am stumped.