Kayaking Elkhorn Slough - Solo, Jan 25, 2009

I got up Sunday morning thinking I was going to do my usual 7 mile Hoffman Loop run in Nicene Marks State Park. But wanted something different, as I put together my stuff. Maybe a run on Salinas Beach? But it was a post-storm day; windy and cool and dark. Maybe a double workout, since I did nothing on Saturday. My kayak was still on the roof, it was early - maybe I could do a fast paddle, stressing a good workout instead of a leisurely wildlife viewing session, then go run in Nicene Marks. Yeah, that sounded fun. So off I went. When I arrived at my secret put-in spot, it was even more windy than I expected, and I saw no other kayakers. Big breakers at the jetty turned into small white caps in the main channel. Should I bring my camera in these risky conditions? Sure. You never know what opportunities will happen at Elkhorn. Glad I did, I got some spectacular shots of pelicans.

A snowy egret gives me the eye

These Brown Pelicans were hunkered down against the wind, on the lee side of this embankment.

Now giving me a suspicious side look

Sorry guys. I'm just trying to avoid the white caps in the channel. Don't mind me.

Beautiful birds
Now the seals pop up to see what's the ruckus
An homage to the final scenes from Hitchcock's "The Birds"

An abstract of pelican parts

These two images...

...are photographic paintings

coming in for a landing

settling back down...

...but still with the suspicious side looks

Permits? We don't need no stinking permits!


This disturbing sign suprised me. I'd never seen it before, and many others all posted along the shores, right next to the old walkways and bird observing stations. Hunting, in a wildlife refuge? Huh? Indeed, for the first time, I was hearing quite a lot of gunfire from the other shore across the channel. Normally, the pelicans are pretty placid as you paddle by, but not today. Is this some new law, some parting gift to the gun lobby from Bush? Shooting up the furry animals hardly seems like fair play in this, the largest slough on the west coast and a vital wintering site for a migratory birds.

The paddle back was against a stiff wind and current - the work out I'd planned for. The waves against the kayak managed to soak my camera, but not fatally.