Birds · Lake

Messing About In Boats

“There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – Wind in the Willows

79 Canoe 2.JPG

Whilst we get to see lots of wildlife when we are just sitting on our dock, we get to see lots more by getting out in the canoe or kayaks and exploring. We started off with just a canoe and took it out early morning or late in the day, when it is cooler and the chance of seeing wildlife increases. It was great when it was just the two of us, but as soon as we had more people visiting we had to take turns and as it is rather anti-social to go off and leave guests, we sometimes didn’t bother going out. Last year we decided we needed to expand our fleet and added two kayaks.

DSC_3958 kayaks

We bought a couple of cheap ones, but they actually are not bad. The skirts are a little pathetic, but we managed with them and could buy something better at a later date if we decide we need them. They have been such fun and the kids have really enjoyed them much more than the canoe. They are great if you want to go out alone. I find managing the canoe alone is hard, so I have really enjoyed the ease of the kayaks.

DSC_3878 amongst reeds

One place I was unable to explore with the canoe was the end of the bay, next to the cottage. It is shallow and full of reeds, but I was able to get in there with the kayak and explore a little further than I could with the canoe. It is so peaceful to sit in the kayak and listen to the bird song all around. The redwing blackbirds built their nest amongst the reeds there and were not too pleased to see me arrive!

Redwing Blackbird

We had noticed that there was a lot of redwing blackbird activity at the side of the cottage and they can be quite noisy at times. I assumed they had a nest in the trees there, but I was able to see from the kayak that they had actually built their nest between the reeds.

Red-wing blackbird nest Red-wing blackbird Female

Mum was standing guard so I didn’t get any closer and distress her more than I had already done.

89 Heart lily pad

I love checking out the lily pads. Even when they are not in flower, they can be beautiful.

134 Yellow lily.jpg

But it is great when those flowers start to arrive.

DSC_4012 High View.jpg

We are on the Rideau system, so we have a huge amount of water to explore beyond our bay. Each time we went out in the canoe we expanded our route to explore, but our range was limited because our shoulders tired. My husband decided we needed some help. He would love a pontoon boat, but our budget won’t stretch that far, so he bought a trolling motor and battery instead.


It has been great. We have doubled the length of time we are able to stay out and we were surprised to find that some wildlife seems less bothered by the quiet hum of the motor than the splash of the paddles.

DSC_6671 cropped

We need to plan carefully now though, because we have found ourselves arriving back when it was almost dark. We had gone further than we should have, given the time we had before it got dark. Thankfully our bay is very quiet and we made it that far before we were really losing the light badly.

DSCF8376 Canoe.jpg

There is one issue with the kayaks that we need to address this year. We were in a boating store, chatting to the assistant about kayak skirts and we discovered covers for the kayak cockpit. We have just been storing our kayaks upside down on the ground. She told us how snakes love to curl up in kayaks if you store them that way! You can easily see if a snake is in the canoe, but it isn’t so easy to see if one is in a kayak. Suddenly a cockpit cover seems a much more pressing purchase than a new skirt and I am not sure that I will be quite so enthusiastic about going out in the kayak until we have sorted out that little detail!!!!





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