June 2011

Sunday -- June 5, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 75

I hosted the second monthly, Canal Steward Day here this morning. Nobody showed up. I was able to get some of the work done even without help. I refastened some of the planks on the bridge and I did a lot of sweeping. I was going to paint over the graffiti on the "dam ahead" sign, but I was afraid it was going to rain so we'll save that for another day. Remember, The first Sunday of every month, from 9-12, we will gather to do maintenance and clean-up on our beloved towpath. We are the Stewards for Mile 7!

I solved the mystery about our baby eagle. I did not understand why I was not seeing the young eagle in the nest. The last I had seen it, back in mid-May, it was an adult-sized bird and it was standing on the edge of the nest. I thought it looked big, but since the young eagles never fledge before July, I thought I would have many opportunities to view it at the nest during the next month. The mystery was solved yesterday when I saw the young eagle flying! I was shocked to see it soaring above me as it headed toward the nest, and I still don't get how the bird learned to fly a whole month ahead of schedule.

Monday -- June 6, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 75

We had our busiest day of the year so far yesterday, not counting the workfests, or the Down River Race. I had some fishermen in the morning, then a high school reunion party of about 10 people Later in the afternoon there was a birthday party of 12 and 16 cub scouts and scout leaders. Not to say that it was crazy or crowded, there was plenty of room for everyone with room to spare. The scouts took out seven canoes but there were still plenty of boats for the other guests. It was a fun day.

I just saw the first jewel weed blossom of the summer. Funny, I thought they didn't bloom until July.

I was putting a boat up in the canoe rack and accidentally knocked another boat off of the rack. When I went to return it to it's spot I noticed that there were two tiny wren's eggs in it, next to the remnants of a nest. I put the kayak back on the rack and tried to restore the nest and eggs back to their original position. I hope the parents come back, and check your boats if you're taking them out for the first time of the season. There might be a nest in it.

Wednesday -- June 15, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 73

We got the swim float out on Sunday and yesterday I picked up some noodles, so we are in full swimming mode. I did not put the slide back on the dock yet and I'm not sure I will this year. It takes up so much room on the dock.

Wednesday -- June 20, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 73

This Saturday is the big night, the Sycamore Island After Hours Solstice Dance!! The party starts at 7:00, be there or be square!

The other super big event that is coming up is my Island to Island Kayak Trek to support Potomac Riverkeeper and raise awareness about the source of our drinking water. My trip starts in less than three weeks, leaving the Island on July 9th, and arriving at Jefferson Island Club on July 16!

Wednesday -- June 29, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 79

Summer time and the living is easy. I've been enjoying the extraordinary weather and the nice, lazy river. these supreme conditions have made it difficult to stay focused on all the projects that need doing around here but we have managed to get a lot done. Tryon was here last week and we repaired the dock ramp. We also put up a new "safety station" on the swim dock where we now have a throw ring ready for rescue. I had to change out one of the pulleys on the ferry cable, always a tricky job. I spent some time cleaning up for the dance so the screen porch and other areas are looking better than normal. Yesterday I did some tree work and cut the old mulberry tree way back. Then there are the invasive vines, an endless job. I had Amerik Obie here as a volunteer. He and his helpers replaced some rotted siding and a drip cap. Helper Carl even crafted a Sycamore Island logo out of plywood and used it to cover the old stovepipe hole that was on the front of the clubhouse. It looks really cool, thanks Amerik and Carl! There is also some painting going on.

Now that summer is here most of the nesting warblers and orioles are less active and their songs are less frequent. The eagles are done raising their chick as well and eagle sighting have gone way down. What is interesting is that there are other birds coming in to take their place. Suddenly, green-backed herons are a common sight on the canal and I just saw the first great egret of the year. The king birds are still very active and I watch them as they perform their arial acrobatics, catching any poor insect that might be flying by. I watched this adept predator try to catch a large dragon fly but somehow the dragon fly was able to out maneuver the hungry bird.

I've also been busy training for my big kayak trip down the Potomac. I try to spend at least an hour everyday paddling back and forth around the Island. The exciting thing is that Potomac Riverkeeper has me up on their website and people can go there and support my trip and Potomac Riverkeeper. I like their new slogan, "I'm 2/3 Potomac". Since we are all 2/3 water and since we get all our water from this river we are all 2/3 Potomac river! I'm happy that my trip might raise awareness about the importance of this river and I've already raised some money for the cause! Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm!

So I was doing my training the other day when I notice something unusual swimming across the river. I've become familiar with what a beaver or a muskrat look like as they swim and this creature was neither of those. What ever it was, it was diligently traveling across the channel toward the Island. I paddled quickly to catch up with it before it got away and when I got up close I was shocked. It was a squirrel paddling itself across the river. I got up close, closer than I'd ever been to a healthy squirrel, and the little animal started to take on a Jimmeny Cricket type of personality. The poor thing could not dive to avoid me so it's only recourse was to just swim as fast as he possibly could and hope that I didn't bother it. He reached the island and quickly ran up a tree.I've seen squirrels swimming before and I'm convinced that they have no trouble coming and going to the Island.

Don't forget, we have the Sycamore Island Canal Steward Day coming up on this Sunday, starting at 10:00 a.m. Starting in August we will doing the Canal Steward Day on the second Sunday of the month instead of the first Sunday.

Thursday -- June 30, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 79

I was wrong about the eagle. I just paddled by the nest and the young eagle was there.

We've ahd a lot of evening visitors the last two days. The nice weather has brought out the swimmers and I've had to run thew ferry right up to 9:00 P.M. It was exciting though. In the midst of everyone frolicking and jumping into the water, a solitary beaver cooly marched onto the Island and started to eat the plants by the swim dock.