Winter Run - December 24th

The day before Christmas, I got a break from work and decided to head down to the creek. Also, got a break in the weather. A major storm system continues to deliver rain (snow down to two thousand feet) and high winds along the Pacific coast. As I left the house the winds gusted out of the northwest and the skies were a mix of grey rain and an ocassional window of blue. I put on my waders and boots and threw a jacket on - not intending to fish as much as still warm and dry if the rain came. And with the wind gusting, the rain would hit sideways.

The Delta marsh forms at the confluence of two coastal creeks

Unlike the week before, the ground was wet. Another two and a half inches of rain had fallen in the past four days. The sand along the trail was crusted with moisture and revealed no new tracks as I walked along the edge of the marsh. A couple of gulls put down in the water after fighting the wind to get out of the storm. The woody debris along the marsh rocked up and down in the the wind chop. Since the prior week's visit I sensed more water, but only a sight rise in the creek's position against it's nemisis - the sandbar. Yes, the sandbar looked unchanged and holding strong.

An American wigeon

I wanted to get a look at the creek as it entered the marsh and hiked back along a leeve. Farmers who settled this coastal valley constructed leeves in the marsh to control flooding and pool water for irrigation. This leeve essentially split the marsh and ran parallel to the creek for a quarter of a mile or so. Walking back it became more evident the winter rains were reclaiming all the grounds left dry while the creek flowed unblocked to the ocean.

A pair of northern shovelers

The marsh on the north side of the leeve spread across to a large grove of elucalypus. Considerable numbers of northern shovelers and American wigeons worked the swallows of the north marsh. These guys acted particularly shy. Thankfully, a large buildup of black-berry, poison-oak, and variety of tall grasses formed a solid blind between the marsh and the leeve. I took advantage of the cover and pulled my camera from my pack. They were happy doing "their thing" and I was happy doing "my thing" (i.e., photographing them doing their thing).

State Breach