Bird Watching

 

El Estero Soldado

El Estero Soldado

Commonly called The Estuary, El Estero Soldado, is a protected ecological area at the start of San Francisco Beach. The estuary consists of several distinct parts. Condominiums Pilar and Bahia Delfin sit to the west of the parking lot next to the estuary. From the parking lot you see the inner estuary. As you drove in from the highway, you passed what I will call the back part of the estuary. Finally, the most commonly visited area is what I’ll call the entrance. They are all different, connect to each other, and make the estuary great.

There is no finer section of Bahia San Francisco than down by the entrance to the estuary. The great dark and mountainous Bocachibampo looms over the water where it’s shadow recedes at dawn to sparkle off the fins of the local dolphin pod, glimmer off water sheeting from the paddles of kayakers, and unleash the shreaking of terns taking off on their morning flight. Many choose just to walk the beach, after their morning coffee while watching the dolphin pass by from the beach walls of the condos in possibly the most consistently fine weather in the world. Although kayaking is better exercise and gets you closer to the dolphin, walking the beach allows you to comb for shells and walk your furry friend (though I didn’t ‘tell’ you to break the rules). I am going to tell you to make sure to at least once walk the unbeaten inside path. It will be a relaxing experience none-the-less and get you to the mouth of the estuary.
The tides pull in and out, helping to set the mood and estuary into motion. Time it right and you get pulled in effortlessly, or you’ll have to work your way upriver. A great number of pelicans and terns sometimes park outside the mouth where the estuary comes to life. The mouth splits the water by a large mangrove covered island. As the bait gets sucked in, or feeds on the incoming nutrients, herons, oystercatchers, and other birds dance around for their meals. From there, birds comb the mangrove roots, attack from the air, or wait in the trees as the bait gets further pushed into the estuary. Crabs, rays, and other crustaceans patrol the bottom picking up the scraps. As you get drawn farther away from the crowd, you are simply closer to the heart of the estuary.

Bird 1
After the ‘island’ and a lost arm stretching back to the condos, the two channels of the estuary come back together. The back part of the estuary is where things really mellow out. It can get a little muddy, but that is where you find the mudding birds. Freshwater bids such as white pelicans and other ducks use the back bays as a resting stop before visiting lakes and marshes to the south. Saltwater birds such as the Long – billed Curlew, Rosetta Spoonbill, White Ibis, and countless others find their meals on the low tide. If the month ends in an ‘r’, you might find some workers around the oyster farm to get your own meal. Don’t be afraid of the mud, and also don’t be afraid to grab a few clams – though I didn’t tell you that either. So please come experience the estuary and all its treasures!

 

Bryan

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