Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trip Report: Albion River Seals and Other Critters

Yesterday I made a short journey up the Albion River in Northen California. The Albion is about an hours drive from where I live. As the crow flies it is only about twenty- five miles or so away. The terrain and some evil road planner make it a beautiful winding drive through the redwoods.

The lower portion of the Albion is a long tidal estuary that stretches inland into the Redwood forest for about six twisting miles. If you plan on paddling it you have to plan for the tides and the onshore breeze (er wind). Luckily for me I timed my trip to catch the ingoing tide and was easily able to paddle along with the current.

Right after I put in I was able to start photographing some of the seals that hunt this part of the river. My favorite was a white Harbor Seal that wrapped itself in Eel Grass and was snoozing away with the grass all over its head. Further along I found a seal that I nicknamed Mr. Ugly. He was really dark in color and had an unfriendly look about him. Can seals look unfriendly? They both just watched me curiously as I kept my distance and floated up the river.

I spotted quite a few shorebirds along the way as well as a few egrets and Great Blue Herons and the usual Cormorants. As I traveled along the were lots of old pilings left over from the temporary dams and wharves that used to be in this area from when they logged it for the redwoods and other timber.

Near an old mill pond there were several really neat floating cottages that people have built to live in. The mill pond’s dam was breached during a storm many years ago. When I paddled in through the opening a mixed flock of several hundred Pintails and Widgeon lifted off the pond in a roar of wings and circled several times before flying off.

The return trip up the river was uneventful until about the last quarter mile when I hit the onshore breeze coming up the river from the ocean. My progress slowed and I took the time to photograph a few more seals. There were two that had hauled out onto a mudbank that were really photogenic.

It was a great trip and I plan on coming back. This time to hopefully photograph some river otters.

God bless,


If you plan on going. The Albion river mouth is right on the California coast at Highway 1 roughly 18 miles south of the town of Ft. Bragg. It is approximately a three and a half hour drive north of San Francsico.There is a five dollar fee to launch your kayak payable at the marina. For dinner The Albion River Restaurant is about a 1/4 mile north on Highway 1. On the pricey side but excellent dining.

For equipment I use a Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 Kayak. it is the most stable Kayak I have ever photographed from. I use a custom camera mount to hold my camera and it can be seen here.

Camera wise I use a Canon50D with a 100-400 IS lens mounted on it.

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