May 2012

Wednesday -- May 2, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 64

The river looks very canoeable right now. The wind has died down and this relative calm makes the river look so still and inviting. Plus, the docks are out so launching a canoe has become much easier.

Monday -- May 7, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 70

History in the making! There were an unequalled amount of people here for the orientation on Sunday, 70, counting children! It is obvious that the Club is in for an influx of some new blood! It's very exciting and it will be fun to get to know all of the new members-to-be. Some of them are already asking for waitlist passes!

I took my first swim of the year. The water was brisk at first but I quickly got used to it and it was glorious. It was my only swim since the river got too cold back in October, six months ago!

It's May, so the birding is spectacular. The recent list includes Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, King Bird, Green heron, Common Yellow-throat Warbler and the pair of Prothonotary's nesting in a little-used canoe in the canoe shed. I also had a report of a wild turkey being spotted nearby, right down at the feeder lock!

Wednesday -- May 9, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 69

Don't forget! The Club meeting is tonight and we will have a very exciting guest speaker to kick things off. Come down early so that you can hear the state-of-the-river presentation by Potomac Riverkeeper, Robin Broder! She will present from 7-8, before the meeting, so don't be late!

I had an expert birder down here today and since she was able to identify birds by their voice, we were able to add these rarely-seen birds to my recent list. Today we heard, scarlet tanagers, warbling vireos, northern parulas, a redstart, and a great-crested flycatcher!

Monday -- May 21, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 72

Great weather means good times on the Island and the sign-in sheets are filling up fast. Fridays are busier now with the new wait-listers coming down. On Saturday we had a well attended canoe class which got things off to a good start and the ferry was moving the rest of the day. Sunday started off much slower but then went out with a bang and I was pulling the ferry until close to nine o'clock. Unfortunately, Chris White and his Volunteer Firefighters had to cancel their event on the Island. They were going to be here on Saturday but were called out for a last minute drilling excurse. Sorry guys, I hope you reschedule soon!

Speaking of the canoe class, I want to send a big thank you out to Frank Daspit for leading the class for yet another year. Frank is an expert paddler and a great teacher and we're lucky to have such a legend for a volunteer. Frank was an early member of the CCA who has witnessed the evolution of white water paddling first hand. He bought his first canoe before I was born! His annual class was well attended too and it was a joy to see so many canoes in the channel.

I had the spotting scope set up yesterday and we all got great views of the eagles sitting in their nest. With the scope we can see the youngster and the adults sitting nearby.

The Carolina wrens are nesting in th screen porch again this year. I discovered the nest inside of a corner column one day when I heard the loud chorus of chirping chicks coming from the far side of the porch. I don't mind the wrens nesting in the porch but they do have an irritating habit of popping in the same place in the men's and ladies bathrooms. I wish they would stay out of there.

There was rain up in the mountains early last week so by last Wednesday the river was muddy and climbing, reaching 4.95 on Wednesday afternoon. The muddy water put a damper on the swimming but by Friday I was swimming again.

The fishing hasn't been too good yet and with this new batch of rain I don't see it improving. Bass fishermen like drought.

Monday -- May 24, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 72

I had to call Easterday Well and Pump on Sunday. They are the guys that keep our well working, so you know that if I have to call them, it's not good news.

I woke up on Sunday to the loud hum of the well pump motor. Usually, the pump is silent in the morning since no one has been using the water all night. I couldn't sleep, knowing that my pump motor was possibly working itself to death, so I got up to see what was wrong. The first guess was that there was a toilet running or a leak somewhere, something that would force the pump to run nonstop. I checked, no leaks and all the water was off.

My next guess was that it was the filters. If they get clogged, the system can't pressurize, and the pump will not stop. I took out the old filters and put in new ones but still, the pump would not stop running. I adjusted the regulators to change the pressure and that helped temporarily but then, once the pump started again, it wouldn't stop.

On Monday morning, Darren of Easrterday Wells came down to check things out. His instruments told him right away that the pump that was submersed in the well was delivering very little of it's capacity and he figured that the pump had worn out. This surprised me since I thought we had put in a new pump when we repacked and repiped the well back in 2003.

Darren and his helper opened the well and were shocked at what they found. Instead of a ten-year-old pump, they found a pump that must have been installed sometime during the nineties, or before! This pump was completely corroded and covered with rust. It also had a large hole in the side of it. I think we found the problem. They installed a new pump, which was an $800 part, and now the water is working again, hurray!

They had to decontaminate the well so I had to do a process of flushing the system, but now the water is better than ever. It seems that the hole in the pump could have contributed to the cloudiness of the well water and therefore could account for the short lives of our filters recently. The other good news is that it looks like our well has plenty of water, which is vitally important. No water, no Club.

Wednesday -- May 30, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 72

The river went down to 3.8 but it went back up last night. All of this rain, while not causing any flooding, is making the swimming and fishing less than optimal.

I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Memorial Day! We had a slow start to the weekend but then on Monday I had to heave that heavy ferry across the river over thirty times. We also had quite a few waitlisters come down, not realizing that they weren't allowed on holidays. I wish everyone would read the standing rules and by-laws. It would save me from being in the awkward position of either turning a blind eye to the rules, or worse, telling people that they can't have their Memmorial Day picnic on the Island.

I also want to bring up another problem that happened on Monday. On normal days this might not have been a problem, but when I have to pull the ferry 30 times from 10:00am until 9:00pm, the inefficiency can be a real annoyance. Simply put, a party of six should not require four trips just to get them onto the Island, and if the party decides to leave at different times, thats even more trips. I'm not afraid of working hard and I don't like to complain, but if ten parties of six all came down and did the same thing that would be 40 trips across the river just to get them here! I understand that not everyone can show up at the same time, but maybe on busy days members could volunteer to bring their latecomers over themselves.

We put up the humming bird feeders and right away a female ruby-throat came and drank the sugar water that we prepared. Now, I see humming birds everyday.

Thursday -- May 31, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 72

I've been busy trying to get all of the grass cut. There was a problem with the carborater on the mower so we had to fix that and now we're behind on the mowing.

I have a few annoucements, first, make sure you're here for the meeting as we'll have Wayne here talking about the old saws that they used to use on the Island and that are still here today! Also, all you canoe enthusiast should know that the Anacoastia Watershed Society has weekly canoe trips on that river. Every Tuesday they offer free canoe trips from Bladensburg. Finally, the Annual PotomacRIVERKEEPER Gala is on Sunday the 10th of June. Enjoy an afternoon on the Georgetown Waterfront at the Swedish embassy and support a vital organization!