Monday -- January 14, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 42

I walked down to the foot of the island (doing my daily rounds) just in time to see my flock returning to their evening roosting spot. I'm not crazy about the geese but to watch them glide onto the water in perfect formation was inspiring. I could hear the wind passing through their wings as they bowed them toward the water to land.

I just watched an amazing program on PBS, Swim For The River, a documentary about the Hudson river and pollution. I recommend it for anyone who cares about rivers. I learned that we still have a lot of work to do to enforce the Clean Water Act. Support RIVERKEEPERS!

Friday -- January 25, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 33

The river is green now and I can see the bottom once again.

The last two relief caretakers have asked if we had an axe for splitting wood, so this week I made sure I was prepared. I bought a new maul and a wedge to go with it. Now, if someone wants to split wood, we have the tools.

Supplemental Entry

I just watched another group of hooded mergansers as they fed upriver. They are diving ducks, so one minute you see them, and then the next they've all disappeared under the surface of the river. Coincidentally I just found out about a film that was part of last years Banff Mountain Film Festival. Its called "Ride of the Merganser", a short film about this hearty bird that is found only in North America. I ordered a copy of the DVD, maybe I can show it at the next club meeting.

Sunday -- January 27, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 35

My water is running again. Last weekend my pipes froze and I spent all day Sunday trying to get them thawed out. I forgot how important it is to block off the crawl space under my bathroom. I piled up some tarps along the up-river side of the clubhouse to keep the wind from pushing all that cold air into my apartment. Once I did that it was a matter of using the blowdryer to get things flowing again

Great news! I saw two eagles in the nest yesterday. I'm so relieved, I was afraid we might not have a breeding pair this year after the reports last autumn of a dead or injured eagle near Turkey Run. Happily we have two birds but one of them is a newcomer. I know it's not the same bird as last year because this bird still has some of its immature plumage. Now the question is whether the new bird is a male or a female. It would be interesting if it was the female and not the male that was able to stay in her territory and preserve her nest sight. Apparently there are plenty of male suitors to fill the void of one lost adult.

Another birding highlight this month, besides all the buffle heads, scaups and common mergansers, was spotting five hooded mergansers near the shore of the Island. These creatures are so beautiful and delicate-looking that they seem better suited for a china shop window, but here they are in this hostile environment of freezing water and strong winds.

I should knock on wood as I say this but this year I don't have any ground hogs digging under the house nor do I have any mice to evict from behind the dishwasher.

I'm certified! I just received my Certificate of Accomplishment from the Department of Agriculture for successfully completing the program of Natural History Field Studies.

Monday -- January 28, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 35

Its been like a naturalist's paradise around here lately. Eagles across the river, hooded mergansers by the ferry at day break, song birds at the feeder all day, and at dusk, the skies fill with a variety of water fowl going who-knows-where.

I was hiking along the Virginia shore directly across from the Island yesterday and it was clear that the beaver had been very busy there recently. I counted six big trees that had been freshly cut, as well as a few smaller ones. The beaver have been busy on this side of the river as well, demonstrating their tree-cutting skills down by the pumping station. Thankfully, here on the Island, we've been spared the wrath of their monster teeth, at least for now. Maybe the chicken wire really does help.

I cleaned all the gutters and I spent some time splitting logs with our new wedge and maul. That silver maple logs split nicely without too much effort.

I don't understand why more people don't have parties here in the winter. Once you get a fire in that wood stove its really quite warm in the club house.

Wednesday -- January 30, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 39

The water temperature of the river is going up so there's no chance of the river freezing any time soon. I heard it's going to be in the fifties over the weekend, maybe by the end of February we can iceskate.

Very windy this morning with big whitecaps on the river. The only birds out there this morning were seagulls.