Bird watching in South Australia – Riverland

Bird watching in South Australia – Riverland

Bird  watching by kayak - a novel (and effective) approach!

Here’s a different approach to bird watching in South Australia:  Picture yourself in the front of a double kayak, camera in hand. You are being paddled through the beautiful Murray River wetlands in the sunny Riverland by local kayak expert Kym Werner, while you’re capturing images of the rich diversity of birdlife in the area?

That’s exactly what can happen if you book a guided kayak tour with Canoe Adventures.  The backwaters and side creeks are especially rich in photo opportunities, and the silence of the kayak can often get you in close.

Convenient - Arranged to suit you.

If you’re keen, Kym is happy to start just before sunrise, or whenever suits you.  He can collect you from your accommodation or meet you at the destination.

Photographic Opportunities

Not so sure about taking your camera out on the water? We can’t make any promises, and you do so at your own risk, but we’ve never had a problem yet.  We do it ourselves regularly.  If you don't own a waterproof camera, we can supply waterproof bags if required.


What will it cost? – Details of guided kayak tour costings are available here. Please note that prices are for a minimum of 2 people.

Birds commonly spotted in the area, by kayak include:

  • Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
  • Black Swan, (Cygnus atratus) on the water, distinctive call.
  • Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) has a distinctive call, sits high above the riverbank, occasionally swooping for food.
  • Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) run along the water for quite a distance on take-off.
  • Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) often on the bank, especially by reeds. Distinctive purple colour and red beak
  • Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius),  Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)  All like to sit on overhanging branches.
  • Darter / Snake Bird (Anhinga melanogaster) Often on low overhanging branches, slipping quietly into and under the water when approached, and then poking their heads out when 10—20m away to see if it’s safe.
  • Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca)
  • Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)
  • Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) September/October – early Spring is a good time for ducklings.
  • Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
  • Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides)
  • Black fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops) darting around on low, damp, sandy banks
  • Australian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus australis) more often heard than seen.
  • Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) likes to fly directly above the river, occasionally swooping for food.
  • Superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) flitting around in the lignum bushes
  • Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen),
  • Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
  • Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) often circling the kayak

Some more interesting birds which are less common, but spotted occasionally are the

  • Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
  • White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
  • Yellow Billed Spoonbill (Platelae flavipes)  wading through shallow water sweeping their beaks from side to side through the water looking for food.
  • Black Tailed Native Hen (Tribonyx ventralis)
  • Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) has an amazing upturned beak
  • Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) a seasonal visitor which lives in burrows in vertical sand banks
  • Tawny Frogmouth (Podagus strigoides) usually attempting to impersonate a stump.
  • Australian ringneck (Barnardius zonarius)
  • Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius)
  • Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus)  an endangered bird sometimes spotted at Loch Luna

There are many other birds to see, but less easy to spot by kayak, or too small to easily identify.

Other Riverland Bird Watching Opportunities

Once your kayak bird-watching is over, there are other locations of bird-watching interest to visit too.  There are hides at Ngak Indau near Berri,  Banrock Station near Kingston OM, Cadell Basin and Hart Lagoon near Waikerie.  Gluepot Reserve north of Waikerie, though not on the Murray is another great bird-watching location.

Useful links Here is a great guide to birdwatching in the Riverland, - you’ll find the sections relevant to the Riverland at 3.1 Sturt Highway and the Riverland.

These 3 local national parks are great quiet spots to explore and see what bird life you can discover.

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