June 2013

Tuesday -- June 4, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 80

I had a very large, polyphemus moth on my screen last night. I saw it in the same spot again in the morning, then it departed. It's wings are 4 and a half inches across and the caterpillar stage is bright green with yellow bands and red spots.

The fishermen were catching walleye on Sunday afternoon, but after all of those thunderstorms the river is too cloudy for sight fishing. I hope I catch my first walleye this year, they're tasty!

I received a book about bird senses for my birthday back in April and Sycamore Islander Bruce Beehler is mentioned. He is a world renowned ornithologist and the number one expert on the birds of New Guinea. He is also married to our editor of the Islander, Carol Beehler.

Sunday -- June 9, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 78

It's a real joy to step out of the house and hear the chorus of bird songs. Today's treat was a Baltimore/northern oriole on our mulberry tree and a wood duck swimming past with a brood of twenty ducklings.

Monday -- June 10, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 73

This rain is not helping me catch any fish. The river is muddy brown and expected to rise above five feet later this week.

I went out at about 7 yesterday evening to start the grill when I saw a deer casually walking near the hammock and headed right towards me. It was a young buck with small antlers sprouting from the top of it's head. It didn't seem too afraid of me and when it took another step I shouted at it and it ran toward the swimming dock and into the woods. I followed it's prints and found it again in the brush. It bolted and I haven't seen it since.

Tuesday -- June 11, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 73

The river has crept up above five feet so I guess I'll close the ferry. It's not very pretty down here anyway with the river being so high and muddy.

We only had an inch and a half of rain yesterday but it was coming down really hard at one point. Last week's tropical storm Andrea brought us three inches.

Our flag pole holders for the PFD's keep breaking so I drilled the pegs directly into the 2x4's. It was fun, I used the old Sycamore Island manual drill to do the job. When's the last time you ever saw someone use a manual drill?

Lawnmower busted again. This time it's the drive belt on the front wheel drive. I'll replace the belt today and hope that the problem is fixed.

The zip line too is suffering from over use. One of the wheels broke so we're running on just three wheels. I'll see if I can order more parts.

I also had to do some major patching on one of the Club canoes. There was a leak in the bow and another one in the middle.

Wednesday -- June 12, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 73

The river is slowly receding and it turns out that the monthly Club meeting will be held on the Island tonight after all.

I guess we're in for some more weather though. They are predicting the river to go up above five feet again on Thursday. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Thursday -- June 13, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 73


No scary storm this morning but the river is slowly rising and I had to shut the ferry down.

Friday -- June 14, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.99     Water Temperature: 73

The river isn't rising and the ferry is OPEN! It looks like it will be open all weekend as well.

The high water can be a pain for the members and the caretaker but the rising water can be a boon for others. Take the young wood ducks for example. Normally, when the hen brings her brood(down to 15 now) to feed on the mulberry tree that hangs over the river, the ducklings have to wait for the fruit to fall. But now, with the river at five feet the little guys can reach the berries and can feed at will. It was fun to watch them, and sometimes, when a mulberry was just out of reach, a duckling would jump clean out of the water to get it. Amazing!

Large party on the Island today, 30 people 1-5. FYI

Monday -- June 24, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.55     Water Temperature: 81

Summer is here! The river is getting nice and low and the water temperature is getting nice and high! (I think 80 is the perfect temperature for swimming.)

I think I have a ground hog living nearby. I'm not sure, but something is eating all of the leaves off of the mulberry sapling near my front door. I don't think it's the deer I saw. I think i scared him off.

I also spotted some squirrels on the Island, again. This time I saw two gray ones and one that was black with an orange tail. I kid you not, black squirrel, orange tail! These squirrels just get more mysterious everyday.

Speaking of orange and black, the orioles are often seen feeding in the mulberry tree. I say, THE mulberry tree, because you can sit and watch that tree at the top of the boardwalk and see every avian inhabitant of the Island, including the geese, of course.

I have not seen the cuckoo yet but I did hear one. I think it was the yellow-billed. I saw a hummingbird but still lazy about setting up the hummingbird feeders.

I think I mentioned the big, old silver maple that fell down at the foot of the Island, but we now have another tree headed for the floor. This one is one of our beloved sycamores. It's the second sycamore upriver from the ferry. It took a hit during the Dereche storm but recently it was hit again and it is leaning hard on another tree at a very steep 45 degree angle. These sycamore are sturdy and it could well survive even if it was laying flat, but it sure would change the look of things if that one fell.

I got the lawnmower working again and I've been burning petrol ever since. I think it takes over four tanks full to cut the whole Island.

I also built a new rack for the club kayaks that had been sitting on the ground. I'm still waiting for some more parts to come in to complete the job but I really like the design and it makes me so happy to get those boats off the ground and out of the mud.

One final sad note. The zip line is now completely busted and out of service. We'll have to design our own, heavy duty trolley. I tried to ease the disappointment of not having a zip line by installing a tire swing. I didn't have a tire so we made a seat out of wood. The swing is cool and a lot of fun but it's a little too close to the tree. I'll work on improving that later.

Wednesday -- June 26, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 82

Maybe it's been the chance of thunderstorms that's keeping people away but whatever the reason, it hasn't been as busy as I expected lately. I thought things would pick up once the local schools got out for summer, but it's been quite the opposite of that, at least on the weekdays.

The new safety post on the swim float came off and I forgot to mention that deputy captain, Gerry Barton and I refastened it with lag bolts last week. It looks like all the safety posts will need to be redone with the larger bolts at some point, in order to keep them fastened properly.

Sunday -- June 30, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 82

I've been doing a lot of ferry-pulling in the rain lately. Most of the time we've been able to dodge the thunderstorms but sometimes you just have to resign to the fact that you're going to get wet. Thankfully the rain never seems to last long and having all of those big clouds passing by makes for some beautiful sunsets.

Anyone living here along the river for the last ten years and before are well aware of the 6 foot sewer line that runs next to the canal. Usually, your first initiation to the smell is when you exit off of the beltway at Clara Barton Pkwy exit. There is a vent in the sewer line right there by lock 12 and stench is unmistakable. We have also had to endure the smell near here at Sycamore Island. There happens to be a sewer pipe vent right across from us here and the odor can be overwhelming, especially in summer. Visitors to the Island would always assume that it was the river that was so smelly and I had to explain about the source of the stench. But now, the smell is gone and I don't have to do any explaining! I can't believe that it really happened and that the new vapor scrubbers actually work, but I am thrilled! No more stinky walk up the hill!

Today, Mary and I, with some help from Paul Stanton, got the swim float back out in the river where it belongs. It was sent adrift during the last flood but now it's back in action,good work guys!

I fixed the tire swing and I think it's a nice addition to the facilities.