November 2011

Friday -- November 4, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 50

The Bridge is open!!

Monday -- November 14, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 48

The weather cooperated and we had another great workfest yesterday! It was so good to see all of the members down here working together and having a great time. We also got a lot of important work done. The leaves are all raked up and now we have a new compost bin to put them in. Drew Walsh took the initiative to use the old lumber from the bridge to build a big compost corral where we can compost the leaves and make some good top soil. Drew's idea is to use the soil next year in a grass-planting project. Island erosion has become a concern recently with all of the rain we've had and getting the grass planted should help.

We also brought in all of the docks, which is important in order to keep them safe from the destructive effects of ice on the river. It's a little sad not to have the captain's float though. I'm going to miss sitting out on that dock, especially since it's going to be in the high sixties today.

We pulled vines from the trees and got rid of some of the invasives. Tryon, with the help of Drew again, designed and built an enclosure in the bathroom for wintertime use. I also want to mention how awesome and super clean the clubhouse is! Late yesterday, after most of the members had had their lunch and had gone home, four women took on the challenge of cleaning the clubhouse. I want to thank club members, Star Mitchell, Cathy Carroll, and Lynda Phillips for their hard work. There was a nonmember guest here working hard too, but sadly I did not get her name. Thanks to everyone that came out! I would mention you all by name but it was such a huge turnout that I don't think I could remember the names of all of the great people that where here.

On a less positive note, the new report on the health of the river has been released and our river received a grade of "D". The Potomac Conservancy's study has shown that, despite our best efforts, the continued overdevelopment in the watershed has had some dire effects on our source of drinking water. There are many threats to our river, so please support groups like Potomac Riverkeeper and Potomac Conservancy. We need them!

Not a whole lot to talk about on the wildlife front. There is a bit of a lull in the birding right now since the winter birds have not yet arrived and the summer birds are headed south. I guess the story right now is the rutting deer and their pervasiveness. We had a buck emerge onto the Island at sunset on Saturday. It was strange having a deer crossing the boardwalk while we were still boarding the ferry. It was also a little scary, having that big animal so close, especially since it did not seem the least bit intimidated by our presence.

The other animal that deserves mention is our resident squirrel. I know I cannot be 100% positive about this, since all squirrels look the same, but I think we have a solitary squirrel living on the Island. I would expect this guy to head for the mainland to be with other squirrels but he/she seems happy to stay here alone. Maybe when the weather gets colder he'll make the swim off of the island to seek the body warmth of other squirrels. Or maybe, if I feed it, it will stay and be our winter Island pet.

Wednesday -- November 23, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.7     Water Temperature: 48

The river is rising and the ferry is closed.

Tuesday -- November 15, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 48

The last two days have been nice and warm but I can tell by the low fog on the river that the cold air is on the way.

I figured out why it is that I like the fall so much, its the ever-changing landscape. In the long summer months everything is a predictable shade of green, and all winter the scene of leafless trees remains unchanged for months. But during these two months between September and December the landscape is a dynamic canvass. Not dull or boring but changing daily and even hourly, it's definitely better than anything you can watch on TV!

I stepped out this morning to find a flock of mourning doves on the lawn. The way the ground was covered by dozens of birds reminded me of being in some pigeon infested city square. I did not notice them at first, they blended in with the leaf litter, but with each step I made toward the river, more of the doves would appear and fly off to the nearest tree. Soon a nearby Paw Paw tree was ornamented with forty doves

The beaver problems are worse than I had suspected. Walking around during the workfest and again yesterday I realize that our new menace is causing a lot of destruction. It's funny, with all of the leaves off of most of the trees it isn't instantly noticeable that a tree is gone. If these trees had been cut down while full of leaves it would be obvious, but the nocturnal beaver is crafty in his work. The only thing that told me that we had been robbed was the dozen or so fresh stumps sticking out of the ground. I'm not surprised, however, by the ravenous appetite of this creature, for it must be huge. I measured the high point of a tree that it had cut and I realized that the beaver in our midst is over four feet tall! This must be one old, fat beaver.

Wednesday -- November 30, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 48

I reopened the ferry on Monday but it looks like the river will be going up above five feet again breifly tomorrow.

The last of the leaves have fallen now and I was up on the roof, sweeping and cleaning the gutters. I also did some raking and took the first steps toward filling our new compost bin.

Drew and Tryon were down yesterday to figure out how to winterize one of the bathrooms.