We were completely absorbed watching the Sea Otter sprucing itself up. They are rather more easy to observe than the European Otter because they are exclusively marine and so spend their large amount of resting time floating on the water. River otters find a hidden patch of vegetation or hole along the shore to catch up on some sleep, so disappear completely.
Sea Otters look after their coat very carefully indeed because it needs to be in perfect working order to maintain insulation. Every hair needs to be in exactly the right place to keep out the Pacific chill. This enormous attention to grooming detail is very evident in these video clips.
As we took a tea break (very un-American) we drifted past a flock of resting Double-crested Cormorants:
And the Grebes continued to dive for fish only a few feet from our kayak…unbelievably tame.
I was particularly pleased to see this stunning American Avocet. The same shape and design as our own species here in the UK, but different colour scheme. In fact the same applies to most of the US wading and water birds, in that they are very similar to the ones on our side of the water but have been split up (geographically) for long enough to have evolved a plumage different enough to be classed as a separate species.
Further up the estuary a pair of Sea Otters were fishing. I think they were a mother and well grown cub.
With their wet coat they didn’t look quite as teddy-bear fluffy and cute as our grooming otter we had just been watching.
These otters were clearly used to lots of recreational watercraft sharing their patch.And this was a very un-busy winter’s day…the people in the kayak rental place said the place is absolutely heaving in the summer.
Back at the neck of the estuary there was a raft of over a dozen otters resting in the quiet water.
Our next kayaking destination was further down the coast at Morro Bay, another very sheltered inlet providing protection from the Lively pacific swells.
It’s a really stunning location but is blighted by the three giant chimneys of the old power station. Having said that, we got the impression that the monstrosity was something of a landmark regarded with affection by the locals.
Once again the wildlife was very confiding in the estuary. The otters didn’t blink as boats surged past a few feet from them.
A pair of loons called to each other as they swam a few feet in front of the sailing club pontoon, busy with weekenders talking about rigging and other sailing stuff. They didn’t notice the loons and the loons weren’t phased by them.
We were amazed to sea loads of ground squirrels living amongst the rocks adjacent to the marine promenade in Morro Bay. In UK they would have been chased off, or ripped to pieces, by dogs decades ago. But here all dogs were kept on a lead and nobody seemed to want to break the rule, and there was a sort of atmosphere of pride about all the wildlife that was around. Good stuff.
I hired a kayak and paddled into the heart of the estuary where it was satisfactorily glassy:
An Osprey smacked into the water with an enormous splosh, and emerged triumphant, flying off with the fish suspended beneath it pointing forward (as they always do).
And all the time the small grebes dived for fish in this incredibly fertile place. It must have been because it supported so much wildlife. An Eared Grebe popped up with what seemed to be there favourite food, a pipefish.
After a legstretch on a sand-dune I headed back to admire the Sealions hauled out on a pontoon, with the youngster looking like it had been made out of wax.
The bull sea lions spent most of their time posturing and looking as macho as possible.
Floating about across the skies virtually everywhere we went in California were Turkey vultures. One was eating something well rotted (judging by the wiff) as I paddled past:
After Morro Bay we headed inland across the deserts, and the next patch of water for the Lone Kayaker and friends to investigate lay 600 miles to the south in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
Just enough time to check out the Grand Canyon ( in the snow).
part 3, Kayaking the Islands of Loreto, Mexico, coming soon…..
here’s a sneak preview