Notes from the Island
Spring is arriving early this year. Flowers in sunny protected spots
are already blooming - yellow crocuses near the screen porch, myrtle under
the back stairs, spring beauties and forsythia behind the workshop, ground
ivy next to the Maryland landing, chickweed by the folly, and red dead
nettle near the Davis fireplace.
The purple shoots of the Virginia bluebells and the green tips of the
daylilies, daffodils, narcissus, iris and amaryllis are emerging from the
earth. The island should be beautiful in April.
For a week a juvenile night heron roosted in a tree overhanging the
river upstream of the ferry. One day I spotted our cat crouched in the
heron's niche watching the bird, which was sitting on a branch in the
water twenty feet away. The young heron has not returned.
While canoeing around Ruppert's Island this morning, I saw wood ducks,
mallards, seagulls, Canada geese, woodpeckers, kingfishers, warblers,
chickadees, and nuthatches. A great blue heron was perched high in a
sycamore at the upper end of our island. The mild weather has allowed it
to winter over.
Our new hybrid geese are still here, honking loudly. The female has
had her right wing clipped and cannot fly. However, I have seen her dive
underwater to escape her partner's unwanted advances.
We do feed the geese corn during the winter. Our supply will run out
soon and meanwhile I'm weaning the fowl slowly. Some of you have
commented on the large numbers of Canada geese that have invaded the
island in the past. Although there are some wild geese around all year,
the hordes (up to eighty) come near the end of May and stay until the
middle of June, which happens to coincide with our busiest period. Their
arrival depends more on their migration patterns and our lawn than on the
corn we sprinkle about all winter.
In any case, winter is almost over, the birds will be nesting, the
flowers will be blooming, and Spring on the Island should be as beautiful
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker