Notes from the Island
The leaves are turning and the fall colors are brilliant
against the clear blue sky. We haven't had much rain so the river is
low and clear. Tannin from the fallen leaves has stained the water
John Krasny and friends were canoeing last Saturday and saw
a juvenile bald eagle perched in the dying sycamore tree at the upper
end of Ruppert's Island. One of the party estimated that the bird
was three or four years old, almost full-grown.
The rough-winged swallows have flown from the slough and the
seagulls are returning to Broadwater, a sign of approaching winter.
This morning a great blue heron was standing at the lower end of Box
Elder Island, but I haven't seen any green herons recently.
The reptiles and amphibians are seeking warmer quarters. I
almost stepped on a very sluggish watersnake stretched out on the
Potomac Heritage Trail on the Virginia shore. A few days later I
spotted a painted turtle in the river near the landing. Because of
its larger volume the Potomac stays relatively warm in the fall while
the canal cools down quickly and I believe the turtles migrate to the
river this time of year.
The beavers are active again. I had wrapped chicken wire
loosely around an elm tree upstream of the swim float, but the
beavers stepped on the mesh enclosure and chomped away at the bark.
I've tightened up the fence. We'll see if it works.
The two black walnut trees near the canoe shed have
produced very few nuts this year. Last year the green fruit was so
plentiful that it littered the lawn and interfered with the mowing, but
this year it's not a problem. I hope the trees aren't dying. A couple
of members have mentioned that the wood might be valuable if we
could ever get the logs to a sawmill.
There are still a few flowers blooming: ageratum, jewelweed,
smartweed, white snakeroot and asters. The pokeweed has purple
berries and the spice bush has red ones. I haven't seen any pawpaws,
but I have seen its seeds in animal scat, so there must be some fruit
around. The persimmon tree is heavy with persimmons, but we're
waiting for the first frost before we eat any.
The Island had a few dedicated souls at the last Saturday
work session. Leah Hertz led the effort to paint numbers on the
lockers in the men's locker room, Dick Dianich brought his chainsaw and
cut a good-sized woodpile in preparation for winter, and Steve and
Kathy Carroll paddled the swim float around to the slough. Mark and
Suzanna Strasburg helped haul the float out of the river and offered
to bring feed corn down for the geese.
The Workfest is on Sunday, November 8 from 9AM until dark.
The potluck dinner usually takes place around 4:30 or 5:00 up in the
main room. The traditional tasks include raking and hauling out the
canoe float and the swim dock, but there are always other things to
do. We hope to see you there.
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker