April 2015

Monday -- April 6, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 55

Today is opening day for baseball and it is such a nice day that I think we should call it opening day for Spring on the Island too!

The Island is really starting to turn green now and all the wild flowers are on the verge of opening. The wild flower walk was this past Saturday but sadly a lot of the flowers are not yet blooming. I guess the harsh and extended winter has put the flowers behind schedule a bit.

The wokfest is on Sunday and it looks like we are getting a new dock delivered sometime this week as well. There are also plans to gut the screen porch, so if you want to keep the futon or anything else in there, you better speak up at the club meeting this week.

Apparently, the relief caretaker had trouble operating the padlock on Saturday. Please remember to push in and pull out when unlocking the padlock.

Goose update, so far only one nest started on the Island. There are a couple other pairs of geese around so I expect the number of nests to go up. I have a very busy phoebie nesting just outside my living room window too.

Mary and I went hiking at Soldiers Delight on Saturday. It's a rare grassland eco-system just northwest of Baltimore, near Liberty Reservoir. It's known as a serpentine barren because the oceanic bedrock is at the surface and nothing can grow there but grasses and stunted oak trees. It's an unusual eco-system that contains some very rare plants that aren't normally found in Maryland. Check it out!

Thursday -- April 9, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 55

I had to replace one of the steps at the mainland landing. I guess somebody needs to lose some weight, how do you break a 2x12 board?

I went up and cleaned the parking lot on MacArthur Blvd. It was very grungy and I shoveled up all of the decomposing leaves and sand. It's important to keep it clean so that the rain drains off and doesn't pool up.

While I was up there I raked the big, ankle-breaking rocks from the trail between the lot and the trestle.

Monday -- April 13, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 58

We had another very successful workfest yesterday. It was an ambitious list of chores but thanks to Captain Drew and an army of volunteers we got most of them done. Of course the swim dock and the swim float still need to be launched.

The workfest started way back on Wednesday when $1000 worth of lumber was delivered, and then on Thursday The new $7000 dock was delivered and hauled over to the Island.

So far the new dock is getting good reviews and so far the geese don't seem too attracted to it. Which is good because the irregular surface of the new dock looks hard to clean.

There are now four goose nests on the Island. One nest is directly below the tree house so we were not able to work on that project. I sense a change in the geese nesting season. Years ago there would be over a dozen goose nests on the Island, with some geese nesting right on the trail or on top of the canoe shed. I think our resident geese are starting to show their age.

Wednesday -- April 22, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.3     Water Temperature: 58

Happy Earth Day! The bluebells are blooming!

I also planted some tulip bulbs this year and their bright red and orange colors are a nice contrast to the bluebells.

It's a little surprising but the river shot up and the ferry had to close. I guess there was a lot of rain in the watershed earlier this week.

It's not going to be a big flood but I did have to jump into action and secure all the things that we just brought out at the workfest. I had to tie off the docks that didn't get launched and I'm watching to see how the new dock fares in the high water.

It looks like the new dock has a design flaw. The dock itself is great but the ramp to get to the dock does not have any flotation. The dock went up with the flood, but the ramp did not, forcing the ramp into a vertical position. not good. I pulled the ramp onto high ground but we'll have to address this before we get any big floods.

Speaking of ramps, Mary and I harvested some wild ramps (they are like onions) and added them to our supper, hmm, hmm good.

I watched as a beaver swam across the river with a bunch of bluebells in it's mouth. It was funny to see this bouquet traveling through the water, made me think of a child bringing flowers home to her mother.

Wednesday -- April 29, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 56

Make sure that you all come early to the meeting on Wednesday, May 13. We will have a guest speaker here to talk about the great work of the C & O Canal Trust. Judy Welles, resident of Bethesda and author of the history of Cabin John, will be presenting a comprehensive look at the canal history and the natural history of the C & O Canal National Historic Park.

I won't be at the May meeting but I'm so glad that Judy is coming to talk about the Trust.

Coincidentally, Mary and I will be gone that night, doing our second annual Canal By Canoe, a canoe trip to support the Canal Trust. Last year we paddled for two weeks, from Cumberland, Maryland all the way down to Great Falls, as a way to bring attention to this great park, right next to the Potomac River!

This year we'll start in Cumberland again but we will end our trip just 85 miles downstream, at Williamsport. It's a shorter distance but we plan to be out there for two weeks just the same.

Please follow our adventure at and on facebook.

Also, be sure to come to the Island on Saturday, May 16 to cheer on the canoe racers! The 60th annual Down River Race will be here from 9-3!

I found these river stats and thought that they might be helpful for our paddlers.

3.5 feet
The river reaches caution level for boaters, as defined by the State of Maryland. Fast moving water and changing currents will be experienced.

4.5 feet
The river reaches danger level for boaters, as defined by the State of Maryland. Conditions for boating will be extremely hazardous.

5 feet
Portions of the Potomac Heritage Trail begin to flood.

5.5 feet
Water begins to affect portions of the Billy Goat Trail between Great Falls and Carderock. These trails may be closed.

7 feet
Upper portions of the River Trail at Great Falls National Park begin to flood and will be closed.

Wednesday -- April 30, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 56

Mary and I went up and painted lines in the parking lot last night. The old lines in the upper lot were fading and since no one else seems to be taking care of that lot we did it ourselves. This is not the first time of course. It was over five years ago that Tryon and I first rented a traffic-line sprayer and plotted out the parking spots. This time we use a 4" roller instead.

I haven't seen them yet but I've heard both the northern parula and the prothonatary warblers here on the Island.

Two of the four goose nests are empty but so far no signs of goslings. Could be bad news.