Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Bird Count

Life is not about the destination but the journey.

One of the things that we love about our natural world is that you often find what you aren't looking for. Yesterday, we participated in the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. We found many things that we were looking for and were delighted with so much more.

This was the 111th year of the Christmas Bird Count and the first year for an organized count in Fort Bragg. We had over 50 birders canvasing areas in the Fort Bragg and Mendocino Areas. Of course, our area was the Noyo River which is only birdable by kayak.

We were stoked to challenge our birding skills and learn from other birders. We enjoyed seeing how many species we could find and identify but as usual enjoyed the journey as much as the goal. Common merganser or red-breasted merganser?

Our journey entailed 7.4 miles of paddling over 6 hours in the Noyo River Estuary. We started in the rain, but a rainbow and glimpses of blue sky had us optimistic of a nice day.

We enjoyed the birds and the beauty of the Noyo River. The river was flowing 650 cfs (cubic feet per second) which gave us plenty of water to get up the river and a nice downriver float. Unintentionally we ended up at the Skunk Train's 1st bridge on the Noyo River in time to see the train go by.

As we took a stretch break, we heard more traffic coming on the train tracks and got to see a parade of speeder cars heading east.

An unexpected wildlife siting of our paddle was a gray fox napping in on a sunny bank of the river. (It let me get a photo).

Oh - by the way, we counted 59 bird species on our paddle including 3 unique to the Fort Bragg Bird Count Species - any guesses which ones they were?

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