March 2015

Tuesday -- March 3, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 32

The river is starting to thaw out slowly. I made it home on top of the ice yesterday but I don't want risk it today, I'm afraid I'll break through the ice.

There is rain on the way and it looks like we are in for a good old fashioned freshet. The river may go up to 8 feet by this weekend. It's not going to be a fun week but I guess it's what to expect at this time of year.

We may want to start thinking of another place to have the monthly meeting.

I watched two deer run across the ice yesterday. They were on the Island and high-tailed it when they saw me coming.

Wednesday -- March 4, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 32

It's kind of a miserable forecast for this week, rain, snow, cold, fog, but there is some hope that Spring is on it's way. I saw my first wood duck of the year today! Wood ducks, otherwise known as Spring ducks, are the welcome, harbingers of Spring, yea baby.

Speaking of miserable weather, there is a whole lotta unpredictability going on with this half-frozen river. The ferry is still closed of course, and there is no more canoe-sledding or ice-walking across the channel. The ice is way too thin for that.

The saving grace is that the warm rain-water is clearing a passage through the ice at the head of the Island and hopefully there will soon be enough open water to reach all the way across the channel to freedom.

I'm a little relieved that we've had some time for the river ice to thin out. It can be extremely scary and dangerous to get a flood while the river is covered with 6 inches of thick ice.

The other good news is that we're in for more cold so there will not be a ton of melting snow to go along with this rain, which should help minimize the chances of a flood.

I saw and heard our resident geese today. They came by the Island to see if there was any open water or any non snow-covered grass. They found neither, and their stay was very short. I expect they will be back soon, though I'm not looking forward to their noisy territorial disputes. It's so nice and quiet when they're gone.

I took out the scope and saw gulls, lesser scaups, and common merganzers, way out across the frozen river.

Thursday -- March 5, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 32

The river is going up. I don't think we're going to get 8 feet, thank goodness, but it looks like we will get about 6 feet at least. It could get ugly. Judging from the gauges upstream, most of the rain fell in the South Branch watershed. The gauge at Cumberland, on the North Branch, is actually going down, while the gauges on the South Branch are still climbing. As is the gauge further down, at Paw Paw.

The song birds are keeping me company here in the snow, but jeese they eat a lot of seed. You could use the bird feeder as an hour glass!

Chicadees, titmice, juncos, nuthatches, robins, cardinals, chipping sparrows, white-throated sparrows, yellow-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, mourning doves, Carolina wrens, and one small racoon.

That poor racoon must be hungry. She did run away when I went out there but otherwise, she's been out there all day, digging in the snow below the bird feeder. She looks so cute with her back all covered with snow, like a little koala bear.

Friday -- March 13, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.8     Water Temperature: 41

The ferry is closed for the weekend due to high water. I can't remember the last time we used the ferry to cross the river. I think it's been over a month!

The bird walk had to be postponed, again. I guess it won't be a winter bird walk after all, although "winter", and "bird walk" are two things that don't go easily together anyway. Maybe we can combine the bird walk with the flower walk that's coming up in April.

Wednesday -- March 25, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 46

The river is at that annoying level. Too low to close the ferry and to high to make it easy to use the ferry. Thankfully it looks like it's starting to go down.

There is a whole lotta bird action going on. We've seen a great egret, eared, and pied-billed grebes and there are more wood duck around than Mary and I can count. Yesterday two osprey flew over in the morning and then flew over again in the evening. These were not the feathered kind of ospreys though, these were the new billion-dollar aircraft that can fly like a plane but take off like a helicopter. I've only seen the planes fly over but once before.

There is still at least one squirrel on the Island, a black one. I think there were two squirrels that spent the winter on the Island but it's very rare to see them both together.

Towpath Joe is showing one last time this weekend. March 28, 11:30 in theater 1, at The Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave Silver Spring.

Tuesday -- March 31, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 50

It's been a slow month but I think things are about to change. Winter hasn't yet released it's grip but there are signs that Spring is about to explode onto the Island. The cormorants are arriving by the dozen and the phoebes are searching for nesting spots and the wild flowers are starting to emerge from the cold ground. Come on Spring!

I noticed that two large sycamore trees fell recently. They are right next to the trail as you walk toward The Frank Davis Grill and growing so close together that I think it made them weaker. When they fell, they didn't reach all the way to the ground and one is leaning on a big silver maple at about 45 degree and the other is at about 80 degrees with it's branches speared into the ground. They did a lot of destruction to the other trees on their way down but they don't seem to be dead yet.

I received the good news from our eagle-watching neighbor up the hill, Jack Caldwell. Three young eagles in the nest this year! How were the adults eagles able to incubate those eggs through all of that snow and cold? Amazing! Thanks for the update Jack!