Notes from the Island
May 1990


A Canada goose is nesting on Billy's Island between Sycamore and Rupperts. For two weeks she has been sitting in the same spot surrounded by tufts of goose down. There are three other nests on small islands between Rupperts and Lock 7. Last week I frightened one goose unintentionally, but after she had flown away, I stopped to look at the five or six gigantic goose eggs buried in the feathery nest. This morning I found one of the nests abandoned (maybe only temporarily). One of the eggs was opened, but two or three were still closed and buried in down. Last week Ann Zahn was the first to see little yellow goslings following the parents up onto Sycamore to eat the grass.

Winter must be over; the waterfowl have returned. Cormorants bask out on rocks in the Potomac. Great blue heron stand in the shallows at the southern tip of Rupperts. John Heidemann and Jack Colwell both saw teals and buffleheads above the Island. I've spotted night heron and green heron. I believe wood ducks are nesting in a Sycamore tree on the Virginia side of the Island. This morning I saw a wood duck with ducklings up by Lock 7.

Last night I watched an osprey fishing out on Broadwater. It flew low over the river, swooped down to the water surface, snatched a fish in its talons, and then flew off to a tree in Virginia to eat its catch.

I'm sorry to say that most of our anglers haven't had that kind of luck yet. However, Zack Bookman did catch a couple of fish the other night. The big carp are starting to loll in the shallows. You might be able to catch them with a net.

Maya Kosok-Glazer stumbled on a four foot black snake the day of the Workfest. I saw a garter snake up in the kudzu patch. I haven't spotted any water snakes yet.

The river is warm, however. We put the swimming float out during the Workfest and Charles Bookman was the first voluntary swimmer of the year. There is a bicycle pump on the screen porch for members who would like to inflate the inner tubes.

The bluebells are gone, but new flowers are appearing all the time. There are bleeding hearts in the wildflower garden. Phlox, sweet cicely, and garlic-mustard grow all over the Island. We found a wild geranium by the swim float and a celandine by our front door. There are a couple of unidentified flowers at the northern end of the island, and Holly spotted spiderwort on the path down from the Parkway.

This is one of the most beautiful seasons on the Island. Please be sure to come down, but remember that there is always a possibility of flooding and that there are often large parties this time of year.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker