Kenauk 2007



Sunrise at Kenauk

As some of my faithful reoders have noticed, there has been a dearth of postings recently – these have been due to editorial inanition and a lack of really good birds to write about. However, we are now back to normal. This past week has been spent, as the week of my birthday has been every year since our arrival in Canada ten years ago, in a very isolated cabin on the enormous and remote reserve that those good folks at Fairmont Hotels keep at “Kenauk” in the Ouatouais region of Quebec. Total isolation, many lakes, boreal forest, lots of birds, bears, beavers, moose, bats, canoes ….. Just a wonderful place to mark being a year older whatever it costs (lots, but it’ll be the last luxury we give up). We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – this is what we came to Canada to find.

The cabin we rent every year in a bay off the northern end of Lac Papineau

… and the view from the cabin

Morning mist

The previous ten years have been universally warm & sunny so it was time for a change and the first day was unremittingly wet so we poked about, read uplifting books, ate a lot and drank plenty of wine & whisky (Highland Park 12yo). After that, cool air & warm sun was good for birding as well as fishing. Morning & evening trips in the canoes to see Wood Duck, Loons & a family of three beavers were de rigeur.

Fishing varied between a fine Bass first cast off the dock to bloody hard work to 14 Bass in one hour … Not bad at all. No Trout as they are very deep this time of year (Lake Trout = Char) and I don’t have the gear but the Bass fight hard and make up for it. Last cast of the holiday from the dock produced the two largest Bass of the week … And no, we didn’t eat them – strictly catch-and-release these days. The “killer” technique involved none of that ironmongery so beloved of the N.American fisherman but a simple light fly rod, a floating line and a single grey hares-ear nymph with a brass, weighted head fished slowly with occasional small jerks – the old ways are often the best ways, at least when it comes to fishing. The last and best fish of the week was taken off the dock on the “last cast of the day” – a big one and a fighter.

Worthy of note was the squirrel rustler who lives on Ile des pins – he has clearly become habituated to boats bringing lunchtime snacks from friendly fisher-folk and he was quickly into our bags looking for just the right goodies – home-made sourdough olive bread and peach stones seemed to be the winners.

The squirrel rustler of Ile des pins checking our bags for lunch

The magic fly

Lac Jackson – cabins at Kenauk come with a boat on the main lake
plus a private”stocked lake back in the forest that you are guaranteed you don’t have to share

Birding – Loons, Wood Duck, Broad-winged Hawks, TVs, Pileated Woodpecker, Ruffed Grouse, plenty of migrating fall Warblers Yellow-rumped, Blackpoll, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted and Chestnut-sided … Kingfisher, Red-shouldered Hawk, many, many Northern Flickers and Blue Jays, soaring groups of Ravens, Mergansers and all the regular guys.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Merganser family set out for a morning‘s fishing

Juvenile Common Loon

Next year at Kenauk will see me celebrating my 60th … Something to look forward to indeed and it’s already booked.

PS: these notes have been compiled on the dock looking over smooth water to the sunlit forest on the opposite shore … All made possible courtesy of my handy HP iPAQ PDA – see, even in the wilderness tech-toys have their place!