Tuesday-- October 1, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 70

Happy October!

Friday -- October 4, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 74

I apologize for not reporting everyday, the fact is that nothing exciting or even interesting has happened down here lately. The weather continues to be great, warming up enough to encourage swimming in the refreshingly cool Potomac river.

I usually see only about four visitors a day, slightly more on Saturdays, so you would think I'd be getting a lot done but somehow the day flies by and before I know it its time to pick up the kids. Don't get me wrong I have been staying busy and I just started building cabinets for the salvaged draws up in the tool shed.

I' m going white -water canoeing in Harper's Ferry this weekend so I've spent some time this week preparing my boat. I put floatation in the bow and stern and I glued kneepads to the hull, I'm ready.

I have a toad, American Toad I think, that is often by my front door. It sits in the corner by the screen porch very still behind the broom. Apparently American Toads are prodigious eaters of insects so I think I'll let it stay and help me keep the insects and spiders from my doorstep. I've also seen a Southern Leopard Frog and a reddish Spring Peeper over by the canoe shed.

Tuesday -- October 8, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.68     Water Temperature: 71

This morning the island was invaded. At 7:30 this morning a large flock of a thousand or more Common Grackles descended upon the island. They filled the trees above the captain's float and lined the banks on the south side of the island. They drank from the river and scoured the trees making quite a raucous with their unmusical calls. Their movements caused a light shower of debris to fall from the trees. Then they were gone just as quickly as they came, heading out over the river to Virginia.

Once they were gone and all was quiet again I noticed how beautiful the morning was. The air was brisk and the river was still, reflecting the golden light as it shined off the trees on the opposite bank. Four Canada geese streamed past the captains float breaking the calm waters with their symmetrical wake. Further out the bright colors of two male wood ducks gleamed in the early morning light as they swam with their partners.

Later on as I was bringing my canoe down from lock 7 a Red Shouldered Hawk flew right over my head. It may be the same one I've seen a couple of times before. Paddling back to the island I noticed how clear the river was. So clear in fact that I could watch the carp swimming six feet beneath my canoe.

There was a book club picnic today but I think the cool weather forced an early retreat.

Thursday -- October 10, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.68     Water Temperature: 67

Good turnout for the meeting last night. The issue of invasive, nonnative plants was discussed, namely the Kudzu problem. The vine is growing rampant along Macarthur Blvd. and has also taken hold down here on the island. I started pulling some of it at the head of the island and soon realized it's a big, ongoing job requiring steady vigilance. I like to think we can eradicate the kudzu, at least on the island.

A large party showed up today despite the steady rain. They're hoping the sun will come out but its not looking too promising.

No grackles today. Large numbers of them had been down here both Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30. I guess the rain kept them away.

Thankfully we're getting some rain. The river is forecast to rise to 3.6 feet by Saturday, much better for canoeing.

Friday -- October 11, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 66

The big news on the island is rain. We've had steady rain now for two days but it hasn't affected the river level much yet. The river is expected to rise to 4.5 feet by Sunday so we're looking at a wet weekend but the ferry will be operating.

The island is changing. As the leaves continue to fall there's a noticeable change in the amount of light coming through the trees. Looking out my window I see more of the river than I did two months ago and large trees I hadn't noticed before are making their presence known.

Wednesday -- October 16, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 63

Some nice cool weather hit us earlier this week and now we're getting more rain which all adds up to quiet times down here on Sycamore Island.Though we've had lots of rain the river has risen only slightly, not even reaching the highs that were forecast for last Sunday.

Canada Geese are beginning to camp out and leave their droppings on the swimming float but so far that's the limit of their infiltration. I've seen a young buck on two different occasions this week, both times on the other side of the canal. There's good birding at the top of the hill where the trail comes out on MacArthur,I always seem to see birds there, recently large groups of Robins.

Plans are being made for the upcoming workfest, Nov. 16, so put it on your calander! Also remember there's a new member and waiting list orientation on this Saturday Oct. 19.

Friday -- October 18, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 57

Well it looks like the swimming season is just about over now. The water's getting a little too cold. The river got real muddy on Wednesday and now it's on the rise, reaching 4.5 ft by Sunday, if the predictions are right.

I saw a deer running on the tow-path yesterday.

Monday -- October 21, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 56

Saturday was busy, we had two large parties. The first of course was the Club Orientation. There was an excellent turn out, with over 35 new members and waiting-list members showing up for the event. Many members showed up to help pull the ferry and prepare the food for the picnic afterwards.

The sounds of the island are changing. I can hear the sound of the river falling over the dam, a sound that wasn't there during the drought conditions of summer. Gone is the loud hum of the insects at night. The cicadas and crickets have been replaced by the late night honking of Canada Geese.changes not sudden or dramatic but before you know it things are different.

Tuesday -- October 22, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 55

A great day for birding yesterday. I saw a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker on our Cypress tree. I also spied a Verio of some sort and an Oven Bird. I watched as a Red Bellied Woodpecker stashed a berry in the crevass of a tree and then joined a Downy Woodpecker on the cedar utility pole. Then I saw a Red-tailed hawk up on MacArthur Blvd. Suddenly I'm seeing alot more seagulls too.

Last week a large cross-section of the swing tree was delivered to the island. It's great to have a momento of that great tree. Maybe we could make it into a table or a bench or other kind of memorial, open for suggestions.

Thursday -- October 24, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 55

The sunny weather of earlier this week has given in to a very winter like day today. The island is still very green but the river banks are adorned with the yellow of the sycamores and the bright red of the Virginia Creeper vines draped low over the water.

I was thrilled to see a pair of Piliated woodpeckers today as I came down the trail from the parkway. They were right at eye level hopping all over the tops of the trees, their black bodies accented by their red heads and the splash of white on their wings.

I checked the C & O Canal web site today and found some interesting news. Duke Energy is requesting a right-of-way for two large intake pipes to cross the canal up by Point of Rocks. A fact sheet and map describing this proposed action are available for public reveiw and comment through Oct. 26 by writing Superintendent - Duke ROW Request, C&O Canal Nat. Hist. Park,1850 Dual Highway,Hagerstown Md. Also the Park Service has released the environmental assessment for the constuction of four odor treatment units for the Potomac Interceptor sewer.

Friday -- October 25, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 54

A slow day on the island. I took a short bike ride along the canal, scaring song sparrows from the towpath as I pedaled by. Its great to see so many Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons. The Herons are becoming rather tame, allowing me to get within a couple feet before flying up stream. I tried to keep up with one as it flew away but it effortlessly left me far behind.

I got a report about the public meeting hosted by the NPS on Oct. 3 in regard to the odor abatement project. As I understand it the project has been approved, the funding is in place and the installations should be completed in about three years.

Wednesday -- October 30, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 50

Cold and rainy is the story down here. Needless to say no one has been here all week except Mathews on Monday. Saturday was dead too, dispite the fact that the sun did come out around noon. Sunday was nice and I heard there was a steady trickle of visitors.

Saturday night I went to a special Halloween event at the Great Falls Tavern called "Life and Death on the C&O canal". It was very good and I highly recommend it to all islanders. Part of the fun was running into some members of Sycamore Island.

We set up a tent on the island that night and made s'mores over the fire. Great fun!

Thursday -- October 31, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.63     Water Temperature: 50

Happy Holloween everyone! My guess is that I won't be getting too many trick or treaters. I'll be taking my kids back to our old nieghborhood to do our trick or treating. Should be fun!

A short discussion about the Paw Paw tree. There are very few ,if any, of thees trees on the island, yet on the mainland along the canal, they are everywhere. This, I recently learned, is because the deer won't eat the leaves of the Paw Paw. This causes a problem for the diversity of the river basin allowing the Paw Paw to dominate while other species are crowded out creating an understudy of nothing but Paw Paws. It was my understanding that the Paw Paw flowered and bore it's fruit in the month of October but I have yet to see any sign of this tasty, custard-like fruit. Maybe it has something to do with drought we've been suffering through. Historically this fruit has been harvested and it is an important food source for opossums, raccoons and birds.