MAY 2006

Friday -- May 26, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 68

No sooner had I fixed the toilet upstairs when another one in the mens room started leaking. It looks like the bolts holding the tank need to be replaced. The toilet is another one of the old five-gallon ones(the new one needs only 6 litres to flush),but I'll try to repair it anyway.

Thursday -- May 25, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 66

I can't beleive it, I spotted a big groundhog on the Island! It ducked into a hole down by the dragon tree. I'm afraid it's one of the animals that I relocated across the river, I guess determied groundhogs can swim.

I bought a new toilet for the Women's bathroom yesterday, carried it all the way down here and realized that it was missing parts. I wasn't going to carry it out and return it so I had to go to the hardware to replace the parts I needed. I'm ready to install it today. I wasn't sure that we needed two toilets up there but last week's large parties convinced me. I just hope that having another toilet doesn't double the number of backed-ups I have to fix.

Wednesday -- May 24, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 64

The best time to hit the river is either early in the morning before the wind starts blowing or in the evening after the sun dips behind the trees when the wind stops again. My favorite time is in the evening when the nighthawks are out and the sky is filled with the colors of the sunset.

There was another tame pigeon on the Island yesterday, it had bands on its legs and didn't seem afraid when I bent down to pet it. Two years ago there was a white pigeon that stayed with us for a couple of days as well.

I saw a pair of common mergansers during my paddle last night, could they be nesting nearby? I know the weather has been cool but I thought all the mergansers headed north two months ago, very strange.

There is a northern oriole nest visible from the towpath near the steps. The nest is really cool, it looks like a tiny hanging basket. The mulberries are in and I see cedar waxwings feeding there daily.

The second-graders from Waldorf School had a great time here yesterday and they all had a chance to see the young eagles in their nest.

Tuesday -- May 23, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 64

The wind was blowing hard all day again today. I love the way the wind sculps the water and lets the sunlight play and dance on the waves, but wind is the paddlers enemey and the strong wind were keeping me from using my new boat.

Friday -- May 19, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 63

I often see solitary sharp-shined hawks but I have never seen two together as I did yesterday. They circled around me several times like two jets in perfect formation.

Can one wood duck lay and hatch 18 eggs? That was the question I had this morning as I stood on the captain's float and watched a lone female scurry off with her long parade of tiny offspring. Maybe they have ducky daycare.

The nighthawks are out in force. It is really incredible and hard to believe just how many of these streamlined fliers congregate over the river at sunset. I've seen nighthawks before and it is not uncommon to see six or eight of them over a feild in rock creek or down at the beach, but to see nighthawks swarming like mosquitos was rare. I counted sixty from my chair on the captain's float!

Thursday -- May 18, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 63

The river shot up to 5,1 feet yesterday afternoon but it is slowly dropping now so it looks like we'll be able to operate as normal today.

I saw a humming bird this morning.

The mulberries are in, a little early this year I think. I saw mountain laurel blooming too (not here, on Bear Island), almost a month ahead of schedule!

I just picked up the old mower from the shop, I like having two good, working mowers.

Wednesday -- May 17, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 63

Time to get ready for the big race on Sunday. I have to cut the weeds and Star comes on Friday to put up the course markers. I hope everyone is planning on attending, it should be a lot of fun.

I repaired the thwarts on the club canoes again. They always rot out so I've stacked the canoes differently so that the water drains from them rather than sitting against the thwarts and rotting them out. They have to be stacked flat! I put new painters on all the boats as well, one at each end

Tuesday -- May 16, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 64

I'm sure you are all familiar with the parking lot on MacArthur Blvd. and how trashy and overgrown it is. Well, since my tires were slashed there last week I decided to find out who owns the property and see if they could clean it up. I called the County first since I knew they were responsible for the maintenance on MacArthur. They told me that it was part of the C&O Canal Park. The park people told me that the property might be part of the Clara Barton Parkway land but that the boundaries in the area are not well defined. There is also the possibility that it might belong to the Army Corp of Engineers since it sits above the conduit. I think I understand now why it has been neglected. I would love to see the lot cleaned up and have some lines painted to designate spaces. If it was painted right, there could be room for two rows of cars, space that is desperately needed during the warm busy months. The lot often overflows especially during swim meets at Mohican Pool.

There was a group of bird watchers here this morning. It was sunny while we walked the island spotting warblers and identifying wild flowers. There is an excellent patch of early meadow rue growing here. We also watched (and listened) as a flicker poked its head from a hole in a sycamore, looking like the bird on a coo coo clock as it announced to the world that it had found a perfect nesting hole.

Monday -- May 15, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 64

There was a mix-up on Saturday and we had no relief caretaker here until 3:00. It was suggested that a reminder e-mail be sent to all the relief caretakers.

Saturday morning I had my coffee down at the captain's float. It was so nice to sit in the sun and watch the pink fog burn off the river while the multitude of birds welcomed the day with their joyous songs. Cedar waxwings filled the trees above us.

Friday -- May 12, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 64

I'm on my way to Bear Island to do my last "spring wild flowers walk" with botanist Chris Flemming. It looks like it will be perfect weather for the outing. I'll bike up there and be back by 12:30 in case anyone is planning on coming down.

I have one ground hog living at the head of the island and another living near the house under a big sycamore. That's at least two that I know about. I guess I'll leave them alone as long as they don't try to move in under the house.

I see orioles and warblers regularly now. Yesterday three orioles were chasing each other around near the screen porch.

Thursday -- May 11, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 64

I'm pleased to report that I figured out what made the smoke alarms fail. I installed all the new smoke detectors and the system still didn't work. I then discovered a damaged input jack, replaced it and now we can all sleep safe again.

The young squirrels are big enough to roam around on their own now. They're only slightly smaller than the adults but jumpier and not as good at climbing. I saw one fall from a tree yesterday.

Wednesday -- May 10, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 63

I'm going to the electric supply store today to buy five new smoke alarms. The alarms went haywire the other day, apparently they're not built to last more than ten years.

I paddled up to Minnies Island last night as the sun went down and then paddled back in the moon light, it was beautiful. On the way I saw two crows chasing a barred owl as it flew off with one of their offspring.

Tuesday -- May 9, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 63

Now that all the goslings have hatched I'm trying to encourage the geese to go somewhere else. I chased some geese from the lawn but instead of flying away they just waddled as fast as their webbed feet would carry them. I was puzzled at first but then realized that they must be molting their flight feathers and simply can't fly right now. Once they can fly again I hope they leave, I'm tired of cleaning up the docks after them.

Today I'm going to take a cruise on the Schooner Sultana. It is a schooner used for environmental education and it looks really cool, like a big pirate ship. I'm going as part of my "Weather and Climate" class and it should be a lot of fun.

Monday -- May 8, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 66

I caught another ground hog on Friday, I hope that was the last one.

The black locusts are blooming now and I don't remember them ever being so beautiful with a profusion of white flower and a wonderful scent.

Thursday -- May 4, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.63     Water Temperature: 66

Another song-filled morning. We can hear orioles, prothonotary warblers, starlings, robins and carolina wrens.

Wednesday -- May 3, 2006
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.72     Water Temperature: 66

We got the swim dock out on Sunday but these cool nights are keeping the river from warming up to a comfortable bathing temperature. Maybe I'll jump in before the end of the week.

I just saw another ground hog! How many can there be?!

I saw two northern orioles yesterday and I think I heard a prothonotary warbler, it must be May.

The eagle chicks are growing fast and their grey downy feathers have changed to black flight feathers.