August 2013

Thursday -- August 15, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 80

Check out that water temperature and then look at the calendar! Unseasonable for sure!

The most exciting thing to happen on the Island recently was the catfish that was brought in on Sunday night. Our catfish-hunting duo from last month's Islander did it again, and this time they caught a 35 pounder! It took them a while to wear it out but somehow they got it into the canoe without flipping. Ben and Andy were tempted to bring the monster in for a certificate but then, finally decided to let it go.

I did not do another epic river trip to the Bay this year but we did get the sailing canoe out, and a couple weeks ago Mary and I spent a night on Vaso Island(also known as Herzog Island to many climbers at Carderock). The island of no poison ivy.

We had another good meeting last night. It's not often that we get a quorum in August. I suppose the nice weather helped to bring people down on a Wednesday night.

Sunday -- August 25, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 78

This must be the August sent from heaven! I can't believe this weather, and the river is nice and clear too. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Late summer is a great time to look for wildflowers on the Island, and this year the flowers have been exceptional. The most abundant of the wildflowers is hands-down the jewel weed, or touch-me-not. It's a kind of impatient, and they are everywhere. You don't have to look hard to find these monsters, some are over 9 feet tall! The other flowers, though less abundant, combine to create a rainbow of colors across the Island; Yellow sunflowers, red cardinal flowers, purple iron weed, pink phlox, and a meadow of yellow loosestrife.

There are also some unwanted blossoms on the Island. I was busy pulling kudzu and oriental bittersweet the other day. These are invasive vines that will aggressively cover the Island if not kept in check. Another nasty plant is the Japanese knotweed. I'm trying to keep it from getting a stronghold as well. I've also been busy watching out for poison ivy and I'm trying to keep that stuff from getting out of control.

The horse shoes have disappeared. I thought that they might turn up once I cut the grass but no luck. If anyone has a set of horse shoes in their basement that they aren't using, I'm sure the club would love to have them. Likewise, we need a ping pong table. It was decided at the last meeting that the captain should purchase and deliver a new ping pong table. I think it would be cool to get one of those indoor/outdoor tables. Then we could play on the deck on nice days.

Monday -- August 26, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 78

Many of you have been asking about the large bees/wasps that are nesting on the ground in the fields on the Island. They are called cicada killers and here's what I learned about them.

Cicada Killers are seen in early Summer. After mating, the female wasp digs a burrow about six inches deep in the soil. Inside the burrow, she will make several cells, or small oval-shaped chambers. You can usually tell a Cicada Killer's burrow by the U-shaped dirt around the hole.

Next, the female wasp hunts cicadas. Cicadas, such as the Dogday Harvestfly, are very important as a food source for young wasps. Once she finds one, she will sting it and paralyze the insect. Then the wasp will carry the cicada, which may weigh three times her own weight, back to the burrow. She will put the cicada in one of the cells and lay an egg on it. The female wasp will continue hunting cicadas until she has filled the cells of her burrow. Each cicada body gets its own egg.

It seems that Sycamore Island is one of the premier places to watch this extraordinary behavior.

Thursday -- August 29, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 80

The nice weather has been great but it's a double edged sword for the caretaker. All of those perfect days really brought the members(and their many guests)out of the woodwork and I've been working the ferry like mad. It was such a relief to get a rainy day yesterday, finally, the bell is getting a rest. I knew I was getting "caretaker's burnout" when I started getting excited about the fact that it gets dark (and the Island closes) two minutes earlier each day.

Never buy a Craftsman Lawn mower. The thing broke down on me again. Fourth time this year.

Dave Winer has been working on getting a new zip line installed. I know the kids will appreciate that.

There is a regatta being held hear on Monday. I can't say that there is a lot of buzz about it but we hope you all come down and participate in the festivities. I was reading about the heyday of the Sycamore Island regattas and back in the 1920's it was not uncommon for 1500 people to line the shores of the river to watch the guys compete, some coming from as far away as Philadelphia!

Friday -- August 30, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 81

The summer flowers are blooming but it's becoming apparent that Fall is right around the corner. The Virginia creeper is starting to turn red, the sycamore leaves are turning brown and collecting on the lawn, and I saw my first migrating birds. They were two Caspian terns, cruising down stream before sunset with their red beaks and short strong wing beats. A rare treat.

It is also at this time of year that the cormorants start to gather in a dead tree near here. Every night before sunset you can watch them flying in from all quadrants, flocking to the same dead tree opposite Rupperts Island. The same is true for the three great egrets we have. You can depend on them to roost in the same tree across from the captains float, at the same time (relative to sunset)every evening. I suppose the official start of Autumn should be when the cormorants and egrets decide to leave. Which makes sense since the cormorants always come back on the first day of Spring.

This is also the time of year when the beaver get busy. I think they go into some kind of winter panic and just start cutting down trees for the heck of it. We'll have to be ready with the chicken wire.

I'm looking forward to September, one of the prettiest months on the Island.

The nicest thing happened yesterday. One of the Club members kids, Justin, a sophomore in college, came by to give me a present. He wanted to thank me for pulling him and his friends back and forth to the Island all summer. He was busy getting ready to go back to school in Colorado but took the time to carry a six-pack all the way down the hill. Thanks Justin, it's always nice to feel appreciated.