Observations from a Spring Morning of Kayaking on Santa Monica Bay
Yesterday I rose early to kayak, expecting the rains would come down hard later in the day. The skies were leaden and the air cool and crisp. As I entered the water, I found a gallon jug of Kombucha floating nearby and dropped it off for some nice guys working on a boat to throw in the trash; they joked it was vodka. A short while later a beautiful male mallard came swimming across my path. Then I went over to investigate some black floating substance; I’d startled a large basking sea lion, who erupted from the water as he made his escape. Soon the bright red starfish began to appear along the rocks, feasting on the detritus from the boat people in the harbor. Further along the willets took frightened black and white winged flight while loudly screeching a warning of my approach. Then a quiet egret surveyed the scene with one leg tucked up inside for warmth. Several turnstones and plovers were quietly picking their breakfasts from among the rocks. The sea fronds waved up at me as I passed. When I approached the harbor mouth I looked in vain for the red-billed oystercatchers that often greet me there. Then a solitary fisherman came by in his boat and waved to me bouncing in his wake.
The seas were very calm so I kayaked close to the shore where the shorebirds were probing and feasting on worms and such in the sand. The hudsonian godwits with their stately stilt-long legs and red and black beaks stood out from their smaller colleagues. The sun began to peek through the clouds, and the water turned a beautiful blue green, and the sun-dappled patterns of the waves reflected on the sand ridges underneath me. In time, I came across a paddle boarder, the only other human enjoying the sea’s early morning delights today. Every once in a while a big swell would interrupt my forward progress as I needed to nose up into its watery embrace. A cormorant surfaced with a small fish in his mouth; he had little white tufts of hair on his black scalp. No loons, nor any scoters today, they are probably migrating north. In time I came to the point of my return and came back through deeper blue waters where strands of golden kelp floated along unmoored by some recent storm. Then back into the harbor with the same scene in reverse until I encountered some sea lion colonies taking their family leisure time on the docks and some tuxedo clad western grebes paddling along just like me.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin