March 2014

Saturday -- March 1, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 37

The ferry is open.

Wednesday -- March 5, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 35

Thankfully, the river did not freeze and the ferry is open.

Lots of good birds around right now. We have the winter birds, like the red-necked grebes and American widgeon, but I also saw a yellow-rumped warbler and a group of male red-winged blackbirds visited the feeder. We even had a hermit thrush trapped in the screen porch!

Thursday -- March 6, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 35

Yesterday I mentioned the unusual abundace of waterfowl around here lately. This year we've been seeing many birds that we don't normally see and I just learned why that is. It turns out that the red-necked grebes that I mentioned yesterday would normally be wintering in the Bay of Fundy, but since it's been so cold, they have been force down here to find open water to feed in. Likewise with many of the other birds that would normally be wintering along the Great Lakes. They have to head south to find open water and the first stop is the Potomac River! I guess it wasn't so far fetched for us to have white-winged scoters here after all.

Friday -- March 7, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 35

The rare bird sightings continue. Yesterday we had four tundra swans hanging out near the bottom of Rupperts!

Monday -- March 10, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 42

I got home yesterday morning to find the ferry moored to the mainland, but for some reason there was a club canoe with paddles on it, unlocked? I'm curious about what chain of events led to someone irresponsibly leaving a canoe over there.

I finally did it. I was finally able to remove that ancient cable that was hanging from that sycamore by the ferry landing. That remnant of a cable has been bugging me since I moved here and now it's gone! My guess is that the cable once supported one of the early power lines to the Island. The question is when. It is possible that that cable has been there since before the major flood of 1936! I guess we'll never know for sure but I'm glad it is gone. That cable was a nuisance during the times when I had to paddle over in high water and I'm sure that the fishermen will be happy that there is one less cable over the river to snag their lines.

This is really cool! There are over forty tundra swans sitting in the river about halfway between here and the eagle's nest! By the way, it looks as if the eagles may still be sitting on their eggs. I thought maybe the eggs had hatched but it's really hard to tell from here.

Wednesday -- March 12, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 44

The river is on it's way up and it should be over five feet by the time the meeting ends tonight. I hope the meeting ends before the river gets too high. Judging from the latest predictions, the ferry will be closed tomorrow, and Friday and maybe Saturday as well.

We had a visit from a curious otter yesterday. The thing was four to five feet long and came swimming up to Mary while she sat on the sailing dock. She called me down and we watched it as it swam up to the head of the Island and then dissappeared. I don't remember if I had mentioned this before, but we knew there may be an otter around when we found a half-eaten catfish lying in the snow by the ferry one day.

Thursday -- March 13, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 44

If you must come down to the Island, I might be able to get you on the ferry, but with the river just below five feet and the wind blowing at a steady twenty miles per hour, I'm not positive that I would be able to hold on to the tow rope. If you had any doubts about the force of the wind last night listen to this. The wind was pushing so hard on the ferry last night that it broke the 4X4 post that the ferry was hooked to. Wow!

There is a red flag warning today, which means, not a good day for a camp fire as the air is super dry, the wood is really dry and of course the wind is blowing like hell.

Next week is flood awareness week, who knew?

Friday -- March 14, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 44

The ferry is closed today but the river should be back down for tomorrow and Sunday.

Remember, Sycamore Island Club is now on Facebook and you don't have to have facebook to check it out! I've posted some good pictures there and even a video of the windy conditions yesterday!

Monday -- March 17, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 44

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Five inches of snow and the river is running green!

Tuesday -- March 18, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 42

It's a little hard to imagine with all of this snow on the ground that the first day of Spring is on Thursday.

Thursday -- March 20, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 42

Happy Spring!

I saw my first cormorants of the season, a sure sign that warmer weather is on the way!

Tuesday -- March 25, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 44

It's been sixty years since Justice, William O. Douglass did his famous hike to save the towpath and canal. It must have been an exciting day for Sycamore Island that day in 1954 when Justice Douglass and his fellow hikers finally made it past here. There is actually a popular picture of the event taken from the Sycamore bridge. Imagine what would have happened to Sycamore Island if they had built a parkway through here.

Speaking of the canal, I'd like to encourage you to go to The C & O Canal Trust website and support the great work they do for us and the canal,

Mary and I are so inspired by The Canal Trust and their website that we've decided to paddle down the Potomac from Cumberland to Georgetown to celebrate the canal! More on that later.

I dewinterized the Club bathrooms and kitchen and turned the water back on. It's pretty late in the year for finally turning on the water but it looks like I should have waited even longer with these winter-like temps. Last year we had the water back on on February 28!

I wear many different hats here as caretaker. This past week it's been electrician and phone repairman. I had to trouble-shoot the phone wires when the phone and internet started cutting out everytime that it rained. I found a couple of probable causes for the problem and so far my connection is good. While I was on the ladder checking the phone wires I decided to move the trail lights off of the tree that is about to die. It was a little tricky to keep the power lines out of the canal but I got the lights reinstalled on the utility pole by the towpath. I also went up the hill and cut away some of the menacing branches that were interfering with the wires up there.

Monday -- March 31, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.4     Water Temperature: 44

The ferry is closed. I guess that should not be too surprising since it rained all weekend. The river shot up quickly yesterday but it's going to be a slow ride back to lower water levels. It looks like the ferry will be closed most of the week.

It's very questionable whether it was worth the effort, but I managed to get everyone across the flooded river in the freezing wind, snow and rain for the planning meeting yesterday. It sure is nice to have the sun come out after a day like that.

Check out "Canal by Canoe", it's a new blog site that Mary and I will be hosting as we do our canoe trip from Cumberland to Georgetown, May 5 - May 18. coming soon!