Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Paddling on the Canning

I endorse this strentch of the Swan River as a scenic and relaxing paddle. Go as fast or slow as you wish - there is no worry from the usual blights on the river: powered idiots in their pretentious stink boats trailing hoards of screaming brats in sea biscuits and terrorising squadrons of jet skiis. It is popular with recreational floaters, multisport trainers and that new creature that has recently appeared on our waters - the kayak fisherman (who more often seems to be using foot pedals or a small outboard).

Yes - the route from Shelley Bridge to the Kent St Weir is the start of a nice paddle under the shade of sheoaks (Casuarina obesa), swamp paperbarks (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) thickets, tall stands of flooded gums (Eucalyptus rudis) and  upwards further for about 7 kms to Nicholson Rd. It is all part of the Canning River Regional Park, and information on the paddle can be found here and here. 
It starts off at at a wide delta in the estuary dominated by sheoaks and paperbark thickets over thick stands of reeds and sedges (Isolepis and Juncus). Here you pass mobs of Australian pelicans, darters, pied and little black cormorants, Pacific black ducks, silver gulls and grey teal. Many birds do nest here, and I recently (4 weeks ago) spied the nest of a strange, squawking, so-ugly-they're-beautiful-and-disturbing-at-the-same-time darter chicks.

From there on, the river narrows to form several distant channels - so you can easily follow a channel to a dead end. No drama - all part of the fun. And the casuarinas here are full of mistletoe birds, mistloes, and I've spotted rufous whistlers, grey fantails, the ever-present angry willy wagtails, demented purple swamp hens, buff banded rails, white-faced herons, Australiasian coots, dusky moorhens, great egrets, osprey, collared sparrowhawks, whistling kites, brown honeyeaters, singing honeyeaters, wattlebirds, magpies, blue wrens, pee wees and kingfishers. Just to name a few.

And there is a really nice patch of Hakea prostrata in all its non-prostrate, fully erect, 3 m shrub form. This would have been more extensive vegetation structural association, but now you only get a few decent stands of tall shrubs of this species in the Perth area.

Mr Darter, in full breeding plumage - photo- Mr Dillon
And so you can paddle on until you pass the Castledare Minature Railway station - a boon for anorak-wearing, little-train buffs -  and swing around the corner to the weir at Kent street. This weir was installed to prevent salt water from reaching into the upper reaches of the Canning river and affecting farmland on the Canning plains. You will have to portage over this and head on up a few more kilometeres until the river becomes log-jammed, or you wish to turn around for the return leg.You may notice little freshwater fish species (like the pygmy perch) in the waters above the weir.

And you may pass these yellow things - they are oxygenators, which are an attempt to oxygenate the stagnant, eutrophic waters of the Canning River. Desperate measures - but certainly controlling the fertiliser inputs into the system would help - wouldn't they, eh? (i.e. tighter regulation of fertiliser use seems to be stalled).

Time of year to paddle: Anytime. It might rain one day in Perth, and this may even one day cause some water to spill over the weir. But don't get your hopes up.

Skill level: easy peasy grade 1 flatwater. Exposed, open stretches will become choppy and windswept if there are strong winds or stiff sea breezes. 

Attractions: Pleasant easy kayak in a little bushland setting. Lose yourself in the middle of the city - you can forgot for a while all the crappy MacMansion developments and just immerse yourself in the riparian environment and imagine what the wider area was like ages ago.

Location: 9 kilometres south-east of Central Perth,  in the Canning Regional Park. The park extends for approximately 6 kilometres along the Canning River between the Shelley and Nicholson Road Bridges.

Entry points: Loads. We start at Shelley Bridge, but you can start at Kent St Weir or other points along river.
Note: Pluses: sheltered waters, no powerboats, loads of birds and plants, loads of picnic spots.
           Minuses: low water flows means the water quality can be poor (hence the oxygenation pumps), with algal blooms and even Azolla and invasive Hydroctoyle infestations. A recent fire (Feb 2011) has damaged vegetation upstream of Kent St Weir.

The Kent Street Weir usually has to be portaged, and that pinic area can become very busy on weekends.

More information - More information on the park and its critters can be found here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Art for the birds

and the dogs..

A public found-object art exhibition was held recently at Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, which is my usual birding spot. These events have been held before, but not at this specific location. I think the aim is to create with rubbish and refuse, thereby making recycled artworks that are also recyclable.

Anyhoo - it was a quick wander up the path, avoiding the supposedly leashed dogs and staring across the work reflected in the stormwater drainage ditch. As with previous years, the works were hit, miss or why.

These are coloured cones stuck in the mud adjacent to the drain. They're sort of reminscent of traffic cones, or large golf tees. I'll duck for cover if I hear a booming cry of those fateful words    "Fore!!"
And this is some fungal-like sculpture crafted from the dog shitbags which are so oft found in parks, distributed with the intention for their use to contain the dos, but not necessarily do the bag and contents find their way in a bin. I like this sculpture, oddly enough, because it is a woven netted form which reminds me of the gills/vellum of a morel stinkhorn. Coincidentally, the smell from a discarded, used dog bag also reminds me of a stinkhorn - but I'm certain that wasn't the desired intention of the artist.

 And these are little paper house things. Or something. I should have read the label. But, judging from the deeply set footprints, the people installing the exhibit may have had a fun time extracting themselves from the mud. At least they didn't require a helicopter to secure their rescue


A pelican - reel to reel. Clever one this one.

Fish - all strung out.

Plastic sheet strung between two trees... another why category. I think the title was something like "screen", so it wasn't a commentary on arboreal plastic sheeting ..
Diving cormorants - with final scene of bird with ringpull plastic

and finally - Birdcage - with reversed roles. Oh why don't we see more of this scene.

Soooooooo.... that's a sunny afternoon ramble down the park, away from the dogs, among the birds of the santuary. Needless to say, the ponds themselves have enough water to be enjoyed the birds.

Tree - frame - tree