Stockyard Point (Victoria) - Quicksand!

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Stockyard Point (Victoria) - Quicksand!
From: "Paul Dodd" <>
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2014 20:38:02 +1100
So I had an interesting time at Stockyard Point yesterday on the way back from 
successfully twitching the Beach Stone-curlew at Marlo. We were following-up on 
Tim Bawden's sighting of a race affinis Gull-billed Tern (subsequently seen 
and photographed by Steven Davidson). We got to Stockyard Point with about 40 
minutes of useable light left - but it soon became apparent that the first 
problem was that it was low tide! Stockyard Point is not particularly good at 
low tide - the birds are widely dispersed and there was no hope of seeing the 
terns roosting. We saw them distantly in flight, but there was no way I could 
pick an affinis at that distance.


We walked all the way to the point itself and decided to walk towards the 
waterline, and stupidly I tried to walk across some sand with a little top 
water (I had successfully done the same thing a few minutes previously). Within 
a few steps I was up to my knees in quicksand. I struggled a little and managed 
to get a leg out - and tried to take another step. Within seconds I was now up 
to my thighs in quicksand! To make matters worse, I was weighed down with my 
camera and (very heavy) 600mm lens, a heavy tripod, plus my scope and its 
tripod... Ruth was still safe, but she had to very, very carefully head towards 
me so that I could hand her one piece of equipment at a time and she could, at 
least, take the equipment to safety. All the stereotypical stories of quicksand 
are true - and it is absolutely certain that struggling makes you sink deeper 
and deeper. I managed to maintain my cool (although I was quite afraid), so I 
didn't get any deeper than my thighs. Once Ruth and the equipment was safe, the 
only way I could extricate my self was to (stereotypically) spread my weight so 
it wasn't concentrated on my legs. Bending at the waist, I transferred weight 
to my hands and forearms, then as carefully as possible, pulled out one leg 
(with boots now full of a disgusting sand and mud mixture) and then the other, 
and crawled until I was on firmer ground. I cannot imagine what the owners of 
the Chinese restaurant in Cranbourne thought when we turned up just after 9pm 
with me covered in sand and mud from top to toe...


Paul Dodd

Docklands, Victoria


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