August 2010

Wednesday -- August 4, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.62     Water Temperature: 88

I found a dead carolina wren in the club house by the pool table. I was up there cleaning up after the weekend visitors, (putting away the board games and covering the pool table), when I smelled something dead. I expected to find a dead mouse in the corner but it turned out to be an overly inquisitive bird that couldn't find its way out. I guess it starved to death.

My regular retirees are all out of town so these weekdays are even quieter than usual. I did get a group of fishermen out here yesterday and I'm please to report that they caught some bass! Ten good-sized ones they said. Others have been catching catfish on worms but this is the first sign that the bass fishing might be improving.

I found what looks like a small cactus growing on the Island. I'll investigate and get back to you about that one.

Saturday -- August 14, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.98     Water Temperature: 85

We had to postpone the Fishing Derby. The river just seemed too muddy and full of trash to make a day of fishing sound like fun. The good news is that we have reschedule the Derby for Saturday, September 18. Be there or be square.

I guess the biggest news is the recent rash of thunderstorms that we've been experiencing. It's impressive when you get 1/3 of an inch of rain in twenty minutes. After the rain had stopped I could still hear the roar of little walhounding creek as it cascaded into the canal. I went over and gazed at the muddy waterfall pouring over the rocks It was nice to see some water in the canal for a change, but the rising water put a group of young wood ducks into a predicament. These poor creatures had been flushed from their hiding place and it was all they could do to keep from being washed away down river.

The deer are loving the Island. I never see them but their hoof prints are everywhere and the mulberry tree continues to be slowly devoured. I said I never see them but I did have one late-night encounter. I was coming home and crossing the river in the dark when my headlamp caught a reflection on the opposite shore. I first thought that it was a bit of reflector tape on a canoe or something but I quickly realized it was two green eyes shining back at me. This was new and I tried to guess which animal it was watching me. I got past the halfway point on the ferry and the creature didn't budge, two tiny circles in the dark staring straight into my headlamp. I assumed it was a raccoon perched partway up a tree but, when I had tied up the ferry and stepped onto the board walk, I found I was mistaken. There, to the right of the walkway, only ten feet away, stood a big buck! My light had trouble penetrating the wall of jewel weed that separated us but I could see the bristly fur of it's head and I could see it's antlers poking out above the tall jewel weed. I got nervous standing there eye to eye with this large beast and I reached behind me and picked up the plastic chair that was there. The animal just stood there motionless until I swung the chair at the weeds in front of me. That's when it took off, thankfully, it ran away from me and not towards me.

I saw our rolley-poley ground hog yesterday. Judging by its size, I'd guess that is not going to have any trouble surviving a long winter. That thing was so fat that it could hardly run.

The other creature I want to mention again is the great egrets. I've talked about the two or three great egrets that I've seen around the Island. I figured that they were the rare few that happened to make it this far up river. That theory was blown on Monday when I counted over 13 egrets just above Rupperts! I hope they set up a colony here and start a new rookery.

I caught a largemouth bass last Saturday. That's pretty rare here, we usually only catch smallmouth.

Tuesday -- August 17, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 80

The water temperature was over 88 degrees on the 11th, but all this rain cooled it off and yesterday it was down to 78 degrees. What a difference ten degrees makes, the river actually felt cold when I jumped in last night. Its interesting to think how the rain delivers us these batches of cold water from the upper atmosphere.

The river is clearing up again. The trash is all gone and I can see my feet while standing in five feet of water. The water has cleared up so much that I am seeing fish swimming under the ferry for the first time this summer.

Friday -- August 20, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 80

We had about three inches of rain on Wednesday morning and the river shot up a foot and a half. It got close to reaching four feet but it quickly went back down again. I wish the rain would come in smaller doses. These mega downpours cause so much erosion and they fill the river with so much sediment. Its disgusting to see the rain transform the river into sewer, an endless conveyor belt of refuse and debris.

Tuesday -- August 24, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 80

I got a call from member Kent Halstead and he suggested that we get a secchi disk, a crude devise that we could use to measure the turbidity of the river. Kent is an avid fisherman and therefore interested in the clarity of the water. Naturally he thought he could get the needed information from the internet. But when he looked, he could find no data about Potomac River turbidity, that's when he called me. I think that this information could be very helpful for, not only fishermen but also, swimmers and paddlers. I'm going to work on making my very own homemade seechi disk and begin to post my findings. Who knows maybe our websight will get a few more hits, especially if we're the only ones publishing a measurement of the turbidity of the river, on the whole world wide web. The river is pretty clear right now by the way. I'm guessing that I can see about three feet down.

Great Egrets! Last night as I went for a sunset swim, I counted 15 great white egrets. They were all perched together high up in a large tree just upriver from the old swing tree on the mainland. Even from that long distance and in the fading light, I had no trouble counting their stark white forms contrasting against the deep green background of the trees. 15!

thursday -- August 26, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 80

The river is sooo nice right now. A mild eighty degrees with a six foot visibility range. And the fish are biting.

We did it! We averted disaster and solved the mystery of the tripping breaker.

The mystery started not long after the new construction was done. Sometimes I would come home and find that the lights in the bedroom did not work. I soon realized that the lights were also out in the screen porch, the club bathrooms and the club kitchen. I checked the breaker box and found that one of the breakers had tripped. I would reset the breaker and all would be well again, for a while.

Then one day last week, when I tried to reset the breaker it would not work. It just kept tripping. I called in an electrician who figured that we had a bad breaker and he replaced it. I paid him $50 bucks and the lights were working, until the next day that is. I immediately called and left a message for the electrician. That was Friday. I was away on Saturday so I revisited the issue on Sunday. I never did hear from the electrician.

I suspected that I had a short in the circuit somewhere, but the question was where. I started first to look at all the light fixtures and spent the morning pulling them all off the ceiling and checking the wiring. All looked fine so I started taking apart the switches next. I would periodically run up to the breaker box to see if my efforts were making a difference. Finally, I was able to keep the breaker from tripping but when I tried to turn on the light in the screen porch it tripped again. I decided to test it again, since when I hit the lights the last time I heard a loud popping noise coming from near the ladies room. Just then the Gelbs rang the bell and I asked for their assistance. When I did the test this time I had them watching for the noise by the bathroom. When I hit the lights I got the same popping noise but I also heard the exclamations of Alan and his son Robert. Not only did they hear the noise but they also saw very impressive sparks and rockets shooting out of the wall. Halleluiah, we had found the short in the circuit! It turns out that the new wiring was being pinched against the steel framing by the plywood wallboard. It was like a picture from the "Ten leading causes of House Fires" training manual. Thankfully we found the problem and after spending all day Sunday tearing apart the wall, doing the rewiring and replacing a damaged switch, my lighting is now restored. Now I have to put everything back together.

We had a real National Geographic moment last night. At sunset we paddled up to the tree where the Egrets had gathered the night before, and just like clockwork the all came in to roost. When we had reached our viewing spot, halfway up Rupperts, there were a dozen cormorants high in a dead tree sunning themselves in the last of the suns rays but there were no egrets around. Then, the white birds started arriving. First a single bird but then they started to arrive in twos and threes and it only took ten minutes for the tree to fill up with 16 great white egrets! Oh, and one great blue heron?