Tolderol Bird Sanctuary: Lake Alexandrina, Coorong — 5 December 2021
Twelve paddlers took advantage of the gentle winds forecast for Sunday morning to go for a gentle paddle amongst the reed beds of Tolderol Bird Sanctuary on Lake Alexandrina.
Tolderol is a well-regarded bird watching location, reed beds along the lake shore, grassy banks and shallow basins attract a wide variety of water fowl and migratory wader bird species. Late spring and summer are the best times to see the migratory birds which flock to this area. It is not a very well used park, with few amenities, and is not very well signposted.
On the water
Despite this everyone managed to find the designated meeting point, and we were on the water by 9:30. At the first opportunity we turned off the lake and entered the maze of the reed beds. Having a GPS with a track showing the route from our last visit should have made things easier, but trying to figure out how to work a brand new GPS on its first outing, along with finding some of the previously navigable routes now reeded over, made for some anxious moments. Aided by Bernard volunteering to stand up in his kayak to try and find us a route to open water (he didn’t capsize, ruining a good photo opportunity), we didn’t have too many dead ends, although we did have to push through some thick reeds a few times. All part of the fun.
We took advantage of the only dry(ish) ground around to have an early lunch stop. Peter Drewry showed some great foresight by bringing along a camp chair, the rest of us had to make do with sitting on the grass, carefully avoiding the sheep droppings. The nearby fence made a great place to hang up wet paddling gear, until somebody pointed out that it was an electric fence! We are still not sure if it was active or not, as nobody was brave enough to test it.
By now the wind was starting to pick up so, with discretion being the better part of valour, we packed up and headed back to the launch spot by a more direct route staying to the outside of the reed beds, getting back to the cars by early afternoon. The winds in the Coorong have a habit of blowing up unexpectedly, and with the shallow waters things can become tricky very quickly.
Oh, and by the way we did see birds, lots of birds. See the pictures.