Notes from the Island
March 1991


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 as usual.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker