steelhead in the San Lorenzo River…

Good Morning Barbara,

steelhead(O. mykiss) 353mmFL, captured Sept. 22nd 2016 in the San Lorenzo River. Image from Survey

As you know, I am always curious what is happening below the water surface and so I don’t mind the slow process of wading through the details and their meanings in the annual ‘Lagoon Fish Survey’. So let me treat you to some interesting survey tidbits:  *The long name for steelhead is Oncorhynchus mykiss, which gets the romantic    abbreviation ‘O. mykiss’. * River fish counting(called seining) took place in June, July, August and September.* June had the highest steelhead count( 39 per haul), when more steelhead were present than in the combined count since 2008. * No mid-season tagging was done to eliminate steelhead stress. * September had second highest steelhead count ( 7.8 per haul) and July had the lowest( 1 per haul). * Aprox. 11 other fish species were recorded during seining. * Survey records 11 breaches in 2016 ( breach estimate had been 15) . *  In August the river had plenty of small invertebrates, a great food source for the steelhead. * The August haul had a large school of striped bass, who probably diminished the previous high count of pacific herring and topsmelt. I’ll be back with more fish news.

Berm & fence installed to harness river & beachgoers…

Wow, that was a mighty quick work response! On Wed. 7/12 around 4:45pm the Coastal Commission granted the City their request to waive the sand management permit and the next day the City bulldozer turned into a busy beaver and started to build the berm, which is supposed to prevent the river’s natural flooding desire to ‘mess up’ the Main Beach. On Friday the river mouth was closed, the berm along the river was in place, a wimpy fence insecurely installed and the water level was rising. Since the river water couldn’t ‘pester’ the Main Beach, it decided to use the cliff opening and check out the Seabright Beach area, where it quite happily established a pond, decorated with trash and old debris. Yes, you are right: my concerns to the Coastal Commissioners flowed ignored out to the Ocean.

MARBLED GODWIT with WILLET in foreground 

On Sunday morning the river mouth was open again and I was scanning the berm, when 21 shorebirds landed on the river shoreline. The CASPIAN TERNS immediately interrupted their morning grooming to examine the newcomers, who instantly started to put their feathers into place. After that achievement they started to forage and the TERNS returned to their feather styling. There were  approx. 11 smaller birds in the flock and the bigger MARBLED GODWITS made it clear that they couldn’t infringe on their food turf, shooing them away. I was perplexed by this behavior, because I assumed they were young MARBLED GODWITS and decided to double check my id with the bird wizard Alex Rinkert. Well, it turned out that they were WILLETS. It’s beyond me how I had missed my id cue: their striking white wing markings as they flew in. I tell you humbly: birding is a never ending learning experience!

shore strolling WILLETS 

Nick and I watched a CASPIAN TERN hunting the river for a breakfast fish during our levee schmooze when we noticed a PEREGRINE flying towards us. The FALCON was heading straight at the CASPIAN TERN, who screeched in protest as it realized what the PEREGRINE was up to. The TERN performed one of its quick, sharp turns and was now behind the hunter, chasing it inland. Satisfied with the cleared airway the CASPIAN TERN resumed circling above the water, trying to decide which fish to pick from the river menu.


Never a dull river moment greetings, jane

6 thoughts on “steelhead in the San Lorenzo River…

  1. Speaking of predation, the other day I saw a hawk (red-shouldered?) swoop low over a mallard duck on a sandbar. The duck squawked a protest and got away unharmed.

    1. Never know what to feel in cases like that= glad for happy prey ending or sorry for hunter’s empty stomach…It’s a dilemma for me, jane

  2. Nice report! I look forward to hearing more about how the steelhead are doing in the river.

    1. Thank you & yes, I’ll keep reporting about the river steelhead & their status. Nice to know that the under water info. is interesting to you. I never know if the fish news resonates, jane

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