Notes from the Island
February 1990


I spoke too soon about our cat Fred being afraid to leave the island across the ice. Four weeks ago he disappeared one morning as the river was breaking up. We searched the island twice when he didn't come in for breakfast, and we had almost concluded that he must have drowned when the Animal Hospital called.

Fred had been hit by a car up on the Parkway. Fortunately, we had left his collar on him, and a witness to the accident stopped and took him to the animal hospital listed on his tags. The cat was very lucky: he only had a broken pelvis and some lacerations. We brought him home the next day and we have kept him confined to a box to prevent his moving or jumping around until the bone healed. After a month Fred seems almost as good as new. Now he has only eight more lives to go.

A few weeks ago I bicycled down to Chain Bridge and back. Below Lock 5, crows were feeding on hundreds of dead fish frozen into the ice on the C & O canal. Apparently there had been a fish kill, the fish had been frozen in the ice and as the ice thawed the fish became exposed. Farther on there was the stripped bony carcass of a deer which looked like it might have been hit by a car on Canal Road and then died while trying to cross the canal. It was definitely a macabre scene.

We thought we had lost another white goose when it didn't join the others at feeding time for several days in a row. However, this morning we spotted it keeping company with a Canada goose near the southern tip of the Island. The other two domestic geese did not seem happy with this arrangement and chased the white goose and the Canada goose around Box Elder Island.

The weather has been unseasonably warm. The maple trees are budding, the forsythia is starting to bloom, and daylily shoots are pushing up out of the earth. The seagulls, mallards and Canada geese are back. Today I saw wood ducks and the first mergansers of the year. It's hard to believe that Spring isn't here yet and that we still have the month of February to go.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker