March 2013

Monday -- March 4, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 41

Jeez-Laweez this wind just won't quit! It's like living in a wind tunnel. I should build a kite!

There have not been many birds to speak of for the last few days. It looks like most of the winter waterfowl have departed for their breeding grounds up north and it is still too early for our spring migrants to arrive. This is sort of like the ebb-tide of bird migration, if you will. I did see a couple of cormorants at widewater and wood ducks at Seneca creek while I was on my hike, so it won't be long before our spring favorites arrive on the Island.

Speaking of spring, I also heard the choruses of the wood frogs while I was on my hike. I heard them at three different vernal pools near the tow path. First at Carderock, then at the top of wide-water and then again at the start of the a section of the billy goat trail. It's an impressive sound if you've never heard it. From a distance I thought it was a very large flock of geese or crows about to come over the horizon. Soon we'll be hearing the spring peepers as well, yea!

I've been sick all weekend which has allowed me to do more reading. I picked up the centennial issue of the Islander from 1985 and read about the 14-year canoe pool to the CIA. It's very interesting, but what stuck with me the most was what Robert Sinclair said about the experience. "...for a moment I get to evade modern man's almost complete dependence on second hand information...we have come to rely on what others tell us about the world beyond our narrow boxes...the canoe commute does give me a first hand glimpse of what is going on beyond the various manmade containers I inhabit... I benefit from regular access to information that clearly is unmediated." Mr. Sinclair has opened my eyes to something I've never thought about before, the unmediated information from the river.

Thursday -- March 7, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 39

Well, it looks like our winter scare has passed and we can go back to documenting the signs of Spring. It's too bad, I was really looking forward to skiing along the towpath.

Friday -- March 8, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 39

That screaming wind is back, but the weekend forecast looks good. Warm weather and daylight-savings-time, could be a busy weekend. The down side is now I have to work until after 7:30 instead of 6:30, not sure I'm too crazy about this DST idea.

Last month I mentioned the cottages that used to be along the river near Sycamore Island. Well, I received an email from a guy that grew up here from '41-'62. Here's what he wrote,

"I used to live on the hill (1942 - 1961) that overlooks Sycamore Island and recall a number of livable, often occupied cottages from lock six to lock seven. These cottages were on the flood plain between the canal and Potomac. There was a very nice cottage about 300 yards downstream from you, where the flood plain disappears. And another, on stilts, just below lock seven. Both had nice gardens. I guess the last of the cottages was torn down in the middle fifties.

Monday -- March 11, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 45

Nice weather, busy river. Dozens of kayakers passed by our landing this weekend, all training for the season's upcoming races.

I'm getting reports of car break-ins along the parkway and Macarthur blvd. Never leave your valuables in your car while your visiting the Island.

Dave Winer was here yesterday to do more fine-tuning of the new work bench he built.

Tuesday -- March 12, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 45


Lots of rain means a rising river and the ferry will be closed through Friday at least. The high water will peak on Thursday night at 6.9 feet on the little falls gage which means no meeting on the Island Wednesday night.

Thursday -- March 14, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.3     Water Temperature: 42

The river is high and the wind is blowing. It's not going to be easy coming and going today. When you live on a river as finicky as the Potomac you just have to learn to factor in the river variables. Sometimes it's a real pain.

The geese are laying their eggs now and one couple put their nest just below the deck, right by where everyone walks.

I just saw two pairs of wood ducks on the Island!

I was at the monthly meeting last night. The swimming safety committee has decided to do away with the slide on the swim dock, "too dangerous".

Friday -- March 15, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.2     Water Temperature: 42

The river crested last night but it looks like the ferry will be closed all weekend.

Tuesday -- March 19, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 42

The ferry is back up and running but with the wind blowing and the river still above 4.5 feet, it is no picnic picking up passengers. I'm not sure whether to trust the predictions this week or not but the river is supposed to rise above 5 feet by Thursday again.

Remember folks, the air is warm but the water is not. No Club boats on the river until the river gets to 55 degrees or higher!

Thursday -- March 21, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 42

So, believe it or not, I take a lot of pride in being a good caretaker. That's why I feel so bad about not hearing a wait lister's ring yesterday morning. Lately, since I had the flu last week, I've been needing a lot of extra sleep so when the bell rang, I was oblivious to the world. The only way I knew that someone had been down was when I saw the voice mails on my cell phone. This was bad and I realized that something had to be done to ensure that I could hear the bell while in my bedroom with the door shut. The solution was to install a new bell, right outside my bedroom window. I've decided to call it the Ben Robinson Memorial Bell, in honor of the poor wait lister that tried to come to the Island but was denied access. Sorry Ben!

I saw a red-tailed hawk yesterday but this one wasn't soaring high overhead. This one was on the ground, right next to the ferry landing. I guess it was injured or sick or something.

I had to drive out to the dump today. After cleaning out the tool shed and discarding all of the unnecessary articles, I had twelve bags of trash to get rid of. It was a lot of work loading all of those bags but its nice to stay on top of the trash. We all know how easily it can get out of control.

Saturday -- March 23, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 42

I decided that it would be a good idea to close the ferry today. The river is right at five feet and the wind is supposed to be around ten MPH. It just seemed like to much to ask the inexperienced caretakers to handle. We'll open again tomorrow.

Monday -- March 25, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 44

The river is back down, the wind has lightened up, and it's snowing! I know we're all ready for warmer weather but things could be much worse.

It looks like the timing will be perfect for the flower walk scheduled for April 6. We already have some toad shade, Dutchman's breeches and, of course, blue bells, showing signs of blossoms.

The workfest is coming up too. It's early this year, Sunday, April 7! So get your dues paid, get your wait list passes and get down to the Island and start enjoying the river!

Thursday -- March 28, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 44

There isn't as much "Spring Break" traffic on the Island as I thought there might be. I guess it has a lot to do with the weather lately.

There are still a few wintering ducks around, horned grebe, hooded mergansers, but I also saw a group of cormorants arriving to their nesting grounds. Yesterday, I saw the cutest pied-billed grebe pop up to the surface next to the ferry with a squiggling minnow in it's bill!

Sunday -- March 31, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 48

The water temperature is rising and by the end of this week it should be above 55 degrees. Then we can start using the club boats again.

We saw a tundra swan resting between here and Rupperts yesterday. What a treat!

Mary found a beaver hole on the Island. I think it was a backdoor escape hole. I tried to crawl inside it but I guess the beaver is just slightly smaller than my hips.