Kayaks with birds in the bckground

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.Birds starting to fly

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.

The return

Stretching the legsBy 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.

National Park Sign

Beacon 19 to Barkers Knoll 16 October 2021

Perfect paddling conditions for the Beacon 19 to Barkers Knoll paddle on Sunday October 17. A lovely sunny day and a good sailing opportunity on the return leg.

It was great to see the large number of paddlers, especially considering that some had attended the Training Day at West Lakes the previous day.  Also, good to see  Greg Watts making the most of his drive down from Port Augusta for the weekend.

This was Shauna’s assessment day for Enclosed Sea Guide under the watchful eyes of Phil Doddridge. Shauna’s lead-up emails and briefings showed the considerable amount of work preparing for the trip. Under her leadership, paddlers were: Bernard and Frances Goble, Anne Langsford, Phil Doddridge, Mark Loram, Charlie and Marina Walker, Jo Molsher, Matt Eldred, and Greg Watts.

Paddling Upwind

Paddling Upwind

After 10am we set off from the Beacon 19 Boat Ramp on a nice leisurely paddle hoping to see plenty of bird life. We were not disappointed as we paddled towards the Murray Mouth. We saw numerous Black Swans as we navigated our way between the excitable cygnets rounded up by anxious looking parents.

As we progressed down the channel, those of us who hadn’t stopped for coffee looked longingly at the Coorong Café as we paddled past. Then the Spirit of the Coorong passed by heading towards the Murray Mouth. Some passengers raised their champagne glasses towards our group as they passed. Pretty sure they were heading further up the Coorong to Godfrey’s Landing for a lunch stop and walk through the dunes.

There were even more birds as we approached the Murray Mouth. I recognised (with help from Google!) a flock of Red Necked Avocet and Curlew Sandpiper on the sandbars. We missed our resident bird enthusiast – Peter Vincent on this trip. Also, numerous pelicans, but outnumbered by the black swans.

We could see the dredging barges at work as we approached the entrance to the Mouth.  Hopefully with more water coming down the Murray now and snow melt still ahead, dredging is reduced over the summer.

Taking a break

Taking a break

We stopped at the northern side and stretched our legs over the sandbars down to the Mouth. There were several 4WDs with families enjoying the setting. Some hoping to catch dinner while others just enjoying the view of the Mouth at the larger breaking waves.

After deciding on the safest track past the dredges we were on our way again passing the fishing shacks and making our way towards Barkers Knoll and our lunch stop. The wind picked up over lunch so several of the group were keen to be on our way for the return leg.

Wind was from the SE, making good conditions for the return run. Nothing like our usual 15kn runs, but still, lots of fun!  We were soon arriving at the Boat Ramp after covering 16km in just under 6 hours.

Phil conducted the debrief on our return and passed on the good news that Shauna had ticked all the boxes and he will be submitting the paperwork for Enclosed Sea Guide. Good work Shauna!, and we look forward to your next trip.