February 2012

Saturday -- February 4, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 43

There were six deer waiting for me in the parking lot late last night (this morning) when I got home. They didn't seem too afraid of me as I pulled into a parking spot and they just stared at me as I climbed out of my van. Like they were in shock to see me out at that hour. Stupid deer.

Monday -- February 6, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 43

I hope to see everyone at the Club meeting this Wednesday night. I wasn't able to attend the last meeting as I was in Florida so I'm looking forward to catching up with the latest Club news. I haven't heard yet where the meeting will be held.

Gerry didn't show up to have his lunch today so I guess that means that he's back up in New York with his daughter. We'll miss you Ger, see you when you get back!

I used up the last of the good bricks that we had and extended the brick walkway by the front steps. It's a big improvement and it makes it easier to not trip there where the bricks meet the boardwalk.

Still no sign of the eagles at the nest.

Tuesday -- February 7, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 43

Except for a brief period in early January, the river has not been below four feet since Thanksgiving! During those nine weeks the river was over eight feet twice, above six feet once and at 5 and half on December 3rd. Right now the river is right at four feet and is a very pleasant shade of green.

I've been watching, but no bluebells pushing through the ground, yet.

Thursday -- February 9, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 43

What a difference a day makes. Now there are bluebells popping up, there is encouraging news about the eagles nesting and it turns out Gerry did not head up to NY yet.

Tuesday -- February 14, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 40

Happy Valentines Day!! It looks like Cupid is gonna get me this year.

This new blast of cold air has got me cutting and stacking more firewood and that strong wind over the weekend helped me to find any drafts in the house. I had to re weather-strip my front door yesterday.

The cold seems to have invigorated my neighbor the beaver and once again our trees are paying the price. I've wrapped a few more in chicken wire in the last couple of days but now I'm wondering if there is a way to trap that destructive varmint.

I had to build a new sign-in sheet holder. The last one got smashed into the sycamore tree during the last high water. I moved it closer to the mainland side of the ferry so I hope it won't get smashed again.

I got a call from long-time member Luther Carter, who informed me that he was resigning from the club. It's very sad, he had been a member since 1974!

Friday -- February 17, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 40

Nice weather today and good news about the eagles nest. My sources tell me that the eagles were seen spending a lot of time in the nest this week. The widgeon is still there in the canal by mile marker 6, if you want to see a rare duck for this area.

They are calling for a real snowstorm over the weekend so it will be interesting to see what happens. Who knows maybe we'll be able to ski on the towpath this year after all.

Wednesday -- February 22, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 43

Living here on the Potomac river I think it is important that we remember this day, George Washington's birthday. George spent his entire life here along this river. He was one of the first to survey its western reaches and he was a huge proponent of its commercial viability. The remnants of his work to improve navigation on the river are all around us. He saw it as a highway for commerce but I'm sure he found pleasure, paddling and fishing in these waters.

Speaking of the head waters of the Potomac, I was at the Fairfax Stone on Saturday. We were out in Canaan Valley, (saw some Islanders at White Grass!) and since the skiing wasn't very good we did some sightseeing nearby. It was fun to reach the Fairfax Stone, the most north-western source of the Potomac, and we were able to stand in Maryland and West Virginia at the same time!

No snow in the mountains may be a good thing, it means less chance of flooding come spring. But there is the darker side of not having any snow. Without the snowmelt to replenish important aquifers, the next possible threat is drought.

There was a group of about twenty ring-necked ducks hanging around the head of the island yesterday. They were there when I got up and they were there until the sun went behind the trees, and then they all took off. I saw an eagle sitting by the nest yesterday afternoon, good sign.

Friday -- February 24, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 43

The ring-necked ducks are back again today. I hope they stick around for the bird walk tomorrow. I also saw a bufflehead and two pied-billed grebes this morning. I haven't seen an eagle yet today but I've had glimpses of our resident eagles all week. I saw a raccoon last night, it was raiding the bird feeder.

My washing machine died on me over the weekend. I figured out that it was the timer that went bad. It was an expensive part but I picked up a new timer and installed it. It was an expensive part but it was small and easy to carry down the hill, unlike a new stacked washer and dryer would have been.

Monday -- February 27, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 45

We had a good turn out for the winter bird walk here on the Island on Saturday, and surprisingly, the birding was excellent. I think someone else will be writing a full account, with pictures, so I won't go into detail here. Make sure you look for your newsletter coming out in a week or so.

I feel I need to mention the seagulls that reside here in the winter. When I say reside I mean sit out in the open water silently and peck at food scraps floating by. The gulls aren't very exciting and generally, I pay little attention to them. I think they are ring-billed gulls. The reason I'm bringing them up now is that I noticed some unexplained behavior last night. All day long, they sit, scattered about the middle of the river. Then, just after the sun went behind the trees, they all congregated in a tight circle and started making a lot of noise. This went on for a couple of minutes until about half of the fifty or so birds took to the air. They circled, but stayed close to the others. Suddenly, the remaining gulls simultaneously took to the air and started to fly down river. The first group of gulls then took off in the opposite direction, heading up river. I suppose they have some reason for their behavior but its purpose eludes me.

I finally put my canoe in the Anacostia River. I've paddled parts of the Northwest Branch but never the Anacostia proper. It was fun! we put in at Colmar Maryland, a town across the river from Bladensburg. We had to be aware of tides but the paddling was easy. We passed under New York Ave and the Amtrak Rails, explored around Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (not too exciting in winter), then did a hike and picnic at the National Arboretum. After lunch, it was an easy paddle back upriver to my van.

Tuesday -- February 28, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 45

I decided to turn the water back on in the Club house so all the bathrooms and the kitchen are fully watered. I did not take down the insulation walls just in case we get a cold snap.

Big news! The eagles are sitting on eggs. We were worried that it wasn't going to happen this year, since for the last two years the eagles were incubating the eggs in Late January. So here we are, an entire month later than last year, but the eagles are soldiering on. Maybe they learned a lesson, after the heavy snows of the last two years, to wait to lay their eggs.

wednesday -- February 29, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 49

Happy Leap Day! This is the day that we are reminded that there really are more than 24 hours to a day.

The river is 4 feet now, but it is rising fast. We've already had over an inch of rain and they are expecting more showers later. It looks very possible that the river will get above five feet for the first time since mid January and only the second time since way back in early December.

I still have my lone wolf squirrel living on the Island with me. This squirrel is by far the most elusive squirrel I've ever seen. He/she won't even come to my bird feeder, not even after I've spilled birdseed everywhere. The only time I catch a glimpse of this wily creature is in the very wee hours of the morning, and it never seems to stray far from the big tulip tree out back.

The bluebells are pushing up through the ground now. Some of the purpley sprouts are over three inches tall already!