Monday, February 17, 2014

Little Mandeville Island

Seven paddlers joined me today to do some exploring around Little Mandeville Island. We launched from Holland Riverside Marina at 12:30 under hazy skies with low tide predicted for 2:15 at  -.83 ft.. The marina charges $5 to launch kayaks and you can use the envelope located next to the little store on the dock. When launching, the marina prefers you use the beach adjacent to the ramp. After unloading your kayak you can park down near the restrooms as the parking spaces near the covered berths are for residents. There are restrooms available and there will be a restaurant, Daryl's BBQ opening this summer. Kevin, the owner of the marina is working hard to get the place fixed up.

We headed north on Old River against a mild headwind and took our time keeping a look out for wildlife. As we came around one of the marsh islands we spotted a flock of White Pelicans. Besides the Sandhill Cranes, White Pelicans are my favorite birds that inhabit the delta. This flock was the biggest I have seen as there had to be at least 50 of them. Along with the pelicans we saw a couple of hawks, cormorants,  a few turkey vultures and hundreds of coots all floating in a line about a 1/4 mile long.

While paddling this area it's important to remember landmarks as it can be easy to get lost or disoriented while paddling around the multitudes of little islands. Most the the islands are tule or marsh and not suitable for landing. We did find a beach on the south side of Rhode Island that would make for a good stretch stop. After rounding Rhode Island we came upon the remnants of Little Mandeville Island. Little Mandeville was a 376 acre island that included a pheasant club and farm that flooded back in 1994 which was believed to be caused by a beaver. From what little information I could gather, the Department of Fish and Game was going to convert the island to a habitat for birds and mammals but it never came to fruition due to its flooding. The island is now more like a lake with lots of duck blinds dotting the waters.

We found a spot to stretch our legs and have a snack just inside the island on what's left of a levy. After refueling we got back on the water and returned to the marina in about an hours time with the wind at our backs. It was a great day and it was wonderful meeting new friends to explore the Delta with!

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