Notes from the Island
April 1995

March has been dry and mild and the wildflowers are out a little early. As you walk down from the parking lot, you will see spring beauties, red dead nettle, saxifrage and star chickweed along the path. On the Island itself, the crocuses have come and gone, but the daffodils, forsythia, vinca and spiraea are blooming. The lawn is covered with spring beauties, violets, cinquefoil and bluebells.

There are beautiful clumps of Dutchman's breeches alongside the walkway and toothwort behind the toolshed. You can also see where plants are about to flower: golden alexander at the lower tip of the Island, Star of Bethlehem near the canoe shed, and golden ragwort and purple trillium next to the volleyball court.

Holly and I saw large yellow trout lilies or dogtooth violets blooming next to the towpath. We haven't seen any on the Island yet, although there are many of the mottled green leaves shooting up out of the ground. Sycamore has a large number of the white trout lilies, which apparently are rare in this area.

The seagulls have flown away and the cormorants have returned. Yesterday I noticed a bevy of buffleheads out on Broadwater, resting on their way north. Wood ducks are perching in the sycamores, checking out nesting spots. And the air is filled with birdsong.

Canada geese are staking out their territories. They are congregating in pairs around the small islands in the river where they build nests of down on the ground. I saw one goose chase a trespassing great blue heron off Box Elder Island.

One Sunday afternoon I looked out over Broadwater and saw what I first thought were an unusual pair of ducks. As I went for a closer look, I suddenly realized that what I was seeing were the heads of two deer as they were swimming across to Virginia. They must be powerful swimmers, because by the time I could run for a canoe and binoculars, they had already reached the other shore.

Many thanks to John Matthews who just installed a temporary canoe dock. The permanent dock will go in the water at the Workfest on April 23rd. And we will also have painting, carpentry and grounds work to do. Be sure to bring a dish for lunch and we'll see you then.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker