January 2017

Wednesday -- January 4, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 43

The river is still going up but it isn't as muddy as it was yesterday right after the rain. It's funny, the muddy water seemed to come only from the Maryland shore, just one hundred feet off of Sycamore Island the river was totally clear making for a two-toned river.

Mary and I watched the eagles do their courtship acrobatics while we were standing in the upper parking lot yesterday. I guess it's time to start keeping an eye on the nest.

I was away on leave for a week at Christmas and as far as I know there was no one serving as caretaker while I was gone. I hope everything worked out OK and that no one was cursing my name because I wasn't here. There doesn't seem to be a good way to let the members know when I'm on leave. I really didn't want to announce it here on the world wide web.

Tuesday -- January 10, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 32

There has been a little bit of ice on the river yesterday and also today, but thankfully it isn't very thick.

I ventured out yesterday morning and braved the stinging wind to check for animal tracks in the new snow. I found only the tiny tracks of a white-footed mouse and the Woodstock-like birdie tracks around the bird feeders. I guess the cold kept the night prowlers safely snuggled in their burrows. Even the perpetually busy beaver decided that it was too cold to go out.

Likewise, I did most of my bird watching from my living room, which is not as bad as it may sound. The feeders were busy with the usual suspects but we also had a brown creeper at the feeder and I also saw a red-necked grebe, a hooded merganser and the common merganser.

The steady wind has helped me to find the drafty spots in my quarters and I deployed the foam insulation and caulk. I also performed the annual duty of replacing the ultra-violet lamp in the water filtration system. It's a bit of a tricky job.

Monday -- January 16, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.68     Water Temperature: 32

Today is the day that we honor that brave American, Martin Luther King Jr. May he rest in peace.

The schools, banks and post offices are closed but Sycamore Island is open and ready for visitors. Sadly, no one has been down all day. Maybe they all left town for the long holiday.

I breathed new life into the old dishwasher here in my quarters. It wasn't cleaning the dishes very well and I thought that, since it's about twenty years old, maybe it was time for a new one. I decided to take a closer look and ended up taking apart the insides and cleaning off all of the built up grease and dirt that was clogging some of the parts. I also ran the dishwasher with some vinegar and a degreaser to clean it out and I'm going to replace the screen for the water filter. The machine works much better now and the Club's budget didn't have to take an unexpected hit for a new dishwasher.

Wednesday -- January 25, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.53     Water Temperature: 43

It's been a long time since I had to say this but the FERRY IS CLOSED.

The river is above five feet and that means that we have to close the ferry. the good news is that we haven't had to shut her down for about seven months. It was back in May and then very briefly in June the last time that the river was this high.

The rising river should crest overnight tonight, but the ferry may not be running again for a while, maybe not until Sunday or Monday. We'll have to wait and see.

I did all of the flood preparation last night. I secured the ferry and raised up all of the ropes and cables. It's been a while but I still remembered how to get ready for a flood. It was nice that all of the docks are already on shore so I didn't have to fuss with them.

There is a new and very important film about our beloved Potomac and it features the work of our friends at Potomac Riverkeeper. It aired on MPT last night and it will be shown again on Saturday at 4:30! Watch the trailer:

Friday -- January 27, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.79     Water Temperature: 45

The river crested last night. The gauge at Little Falls reached 6.94 feet. Translation, the water would have been over your knees if you were standing at the ferry landing on the Island.

The river level is falling now but the ferry will not be running again until Sunday. I already emailed tomorrow's relief caretaker about the saturation situation.

I just learned that this has been D.C.'s longest run of days above freezing in the month of January, ever. Maybe not ever, but at least since they started to keep records, back in the 1870's.

I counted 16 mourning doves below the bird feeders today.

Monday -- January 30, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 42

The ferry is open again. It took a while for the river to go back down but we are finally open again, too bad that the weekend is over.

We had a little bit of snow last night so I had to go out early this morning to look for animal tracks again. This time I did see some beaver tracks, or trails rather. With the way they drag their tail, they leave a big swath through the shallow snow. Interestingly, there were two obvious trails that originated from opposite sides of the Island yet both trails led to the same spice bush near the deck. Weird. The snow was pretty wet and we found the muddy imprint of the beaver's tail, scales and all, preserved in the snow.

I can't tell if the eagles have started to sit on any eggs yet but I have been seeing the eagles more frequently lately.