Tuesday -- September 6, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 77

Wednesday -- September 7, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 77

Perfect conditions down here.

Yesterday, after watching the sun dip behind the trees we were treated to a glorious view of the deeply crescented moon flanked by Venus and Jupiter as the three bodies made their descent. Venus was very bright and with the help of my spotting scope we were able to pick three of Jupiter's moons.

Dave Winer bought us a new bell. It's very handsome and much larger than the old bell. Dave painted it and the two of us mounted it on a study post on the island. Now we just have to figure out how to hook it up to the pull rope.

Thursday -- September 10, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 77

I managed to get the new bell to function but I'm not sure yet if it is an improvement over the old bell or not.

The sycamores and the black walnut are beginning to drop their leaves and the tall summer wildflowers are starting to droop.

Sunday -- September 11, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 76

The river is really low now but not the lowest it's been since I moved here. I went back to 2002 to check the records and was surprised to find that the river was as low as 2.1 during September that year. With the river so low and the water so clear we're finding underwater rock outcroppings that we didn't know existed. I also enjoy watching the fish and being able to see the bottom in six feet of water. It's great to have a healthy looking river.

Dave Winer was down yesterday and did a great job of getting the new bell to work. It now rings loud and true.

Monday -- September 12, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 76

It looks like we may get some wet weather moving in by the end of the week. I hope it doesn't mean an end to the perfect swimming and fishing conditions.

Thanks to John Stapko and his son for coming down on Monday,Labor Day, and cutting up whats left of the fallen sycamore. The noise of the chain saw disturbed some picnickers but its great to have the tree cut up and out of the way. The poor snakes were not as happy to see it go as many had found refuge in the hollowed out logs. We even found a freshly-shed skin from a black snake that was over three feet long.

No swimming squirrels this year.

Friday -- September 16, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 76

The clouds are finally moving in as we look forward to some needed rain. Hopefully this won't spell the end of the swimming season, I've really enjoyed taking a daily swim.

I won't be here this weekend, I'm going to the beach for the first time in over two years. Wait-lister Mary Edsall and her husband will be here on Sunday.

The geese have returned to mess up the swim float and I saw a red-shouldered hawk fly right past my window.

Monday -- September 19, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 78

I know we need some rain but it sure is nice to have a cloudless night when the moon is full.

I had a good time at the beach and I think Mary and Tom Edsall enjoyed watching the island. I was very disappointed though, to find that some inconsiderate people just threw their life jackets into a big wet pile on the locker room floor. I wish people would think about the next person who might want to use the life jackets and realize that if you don't hang up the PFD's they stay wet and get moldy. I'm ashamed by members and guests who are happy to use the island but never lift a finger to help keep it a nice place to visit.

Tuesday -- September 20, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 78

It's great to see the river alive with fish. This morning, as I was pulling the ferry, there were dozens of bass and bluegills feeding at the water's surface.

It looks like someone was busy removing invasive vines over the weekend while I was gone. Thanks for the help!!

The beaver got another tree. This one, over by the swim dock, had a diameter of about 6 to 8 inches.

Wednesday -- September 21, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 78

Matthews paddled down to the dam yesterday to see if the river was still flowing over it and he reports that the concrete of the dam is not yet exposed. Apparently, the water was so low three years ago that the water wasn't even flowing over the dam except at the fish ladder.

The beaver are hard at work and we lost a little sassafras tree.

Thursday -- September 22, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 77

It's the first day of Autumn but it looks like it's going to be a warm summery day.

Friday -- September 23, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 76

I've got groundhog problems. I wasn't sure at first why the bricks covering the floor in the screen porch and locker room were dropping and leaving big holes but it didn't take long to figure it out. When I went to fix these dangerous holes I realized that there was a long tunnel about six inches wide running under the bricks. I removed brick after brick as I followed the tunnel until it led me to what I think was a hibernation nest. The nest was just under the bricks in the middle of the porch and was a perfectly round hole ten inches across and ten inches deep. It was packed tight with dried leaves and grasses and there was so much leaf litter in that small hole that it filled a kitchen trash bag. As I began to throws many shovels full of dirt in the now exposed trench I began to appreciate the industriousness and engineering capabilities of this large rodent. I had to question as I shoveled a large wheel barrel full of dirt into the hole, "how did this animal dig this long tunnel and nest and what did it do with all the dirt it had to move"? I filled the hole and put the two dozen bricks back in place, knowing sadly that I'm no match for a tireless burrower like the groundhog.

Sunday -- September 25, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 75

It looks like John Stapko was here again yesterday to work on the fallen sycamore. Thanks John!

We were down to just one grill for the weekend so I rushed out on friday and bought a new weber. I was afraid that with the scheduled birthday party on Saturday that we might run short but today I find that the new grill wasn't even used.

Monday -- September 26, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 75

We watched Paul Stanton launch his rowing shell yesterday. We don't normally see sculling here at this canoe club but it was fun to watch him zip away in his super fast boat.

Maybe it's because of the dry weather but it seems that the plants are on an accelerated pace towards wilted winter brownness

. Tuesday -- September 27, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 74

We see and hear the beaver more often these days, now that we have to walk up the hill before first light to catch the bus.

Matthews saw a large buck on the island yesterday and I saw my first seagull, two more signs that winter is approaching.

There is an amazingly beautiful and rare(for the island) flower growing on the beach at the foot of the island. I couldn't find it in my flower book and it may be some kind of nursery escapee with its large purple/pink blooms.

You really have to be careful out there now that the river is so low. You never know when you might hit a protruding rock or tree branch. John and Ann-Marie Cunningham found this out the hard way when their canoe became suddenly swamped after a branch had poked a big hole in the bottom of their boat. John likened it to a geyser when the water rushed into the canoe from the one-inch hole. Resourcefully they plugged the hole with a water bottle and were able to limp back to the island. For the time being I don't recommend using that thin hulled pseudo-birch bark canoe.

Wednesday -- September 28, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 74

We saw the deer again yesterday. I was pulling John Matthews back to the mainland when we noticed the majestic profile of a large deer with a full rack of antlers. It was standing right there on the bank at the head of the island looking like a scene from Bambi. I dropped Matthews and watched the deer as I hurried back to get the camera. I crept up to the head of the island hoping to get a quick picture. I spooked it from the river bank and saw the chunky buck dash through the woods. I tentatively looped around to the head of the island in pursuit of my quarry but never caught another glimpse. I checked the river for a pair of antlers, nothing. I gave up chase and wondered how the beast alluded me as I walked back to the swim float. I stood on the table by the swim dock and took a last look back into the darkening woods and there it was, less than fifty feet away. I readied the camera and slowly walked toward my prey. I managed to get within thirty feet but stopped suddenly. This deer didn't seem afraid and those antlers were beginning to look very threatening. My heart was racing as I clicked off some pictures thinking the buck was going to dash at any minute. Once the pictures were taken I shifted my attention and stood there eye to eye in the presence of this very large and confident creature. I tested the situation and made a slight move toward it. The tail went up but instead of running, this buck did a kind of bull-in-a-bullfight move and scratched the ground with its hoof. I decided to back off and rushed back to the house to show the kids my pictures. Soon afterward I went for a swim and took a stroll to the top of the island hoping to see the deer again. There it was, just sitting there among the paw-paw trees not far from the trail. I passed without stopping. The deer stared as I passed.

Thursday -- September 29, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 74

The river is getting cold now but the swimming is still superb. I swam almost every day in September, it will be fun to see how far into October I can keep this up.

Jim Drew brought me a walleye pike that he caught over by the Virginia shore. I don't normally kill and eat the fish out of the river but the walleye are so good and feasting on it's bounty makes me feel more connected to the river. Thanks Jim!

Friday -- September 30, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 70

The river is getting colder now. It dipped down to seventy degrees last night. Thanks to John Noble we now have a thermometer in the water at the swim float. I've watched the mercury drop all week and I'm amazed at how much colder 72 feels compared to 78. I'm not sure if I;ll swim today.

Good birding today. We saw a huge flock of grackles like we have every morning this week. They noisily gather in the tree tops above the island and then stream off toward the west just as the sun is coming over the hill. The robins made their presence known as I passed under the old trolley bridge, joined by chickadees, titmice and cardinals. Along the switchback on my way down the hill I was at eye level with a pileated woodpecker whose loud pounding caught my attention. I heard a red-bellied woodpeck make it's laughing call as it flew deeper into the woods. From the ferry I saw a siloited heron on a distant shore, I saw swallows against a clear sky and a blue kingfisher flashed by. A large group of cedar waxwing passed through and they took turns darting from the tree branches catching bugs from the air. I heard the unfamiliar calls of the crow and the blue jay and I heard what I thought was a hawk. I scanned the trees hoping to see a raptor when the silent shapes of two large birds swooped by. Red shouldered hawks on the hunt. The carolina wren trumpeted from the rooftop.