Notes from the Island
April 1996

Despite the cool breezy weather, there are some signs of Spring. The crocuses are up near the screen porch and Frank Davis' fireplace. One daffodil is blooming and the forsythia has a few yellow flowers. The spring beauties are out.

We are seeing a few more birds. A couple dozen swans rested on Broadwater before flying upriver. And we've seen coots, mergansers, grebes, and wood ducks. One evening at dusk I walked to the upper end of the Island and watched cormorants circling in the night air before landing in the branches of a large sycamore tree.

We had another flood last week. The river rose to 9-10 feet, which is just shy of the canoe shed. As the waters subsided a flock of robins swooped down, presumably to feast on worms coming to the surface.

When you come to visit be sure to go to the upper end of the Island to see where huge logs coming down the river toppled small trees and then got caught and rested against large trees or just against the bank.

I'm not sure where the beavers are living now, but they survived the flood and continue to nibble away at saplings and the bark of fallen trees. We've seen a couple of beavers in the middle of the day swimming up and down the slough.

One morning I looked out my window and watched a raccoon scamper up a large sycamore tree and disappear into a hole thirty five feet above the ground. Now I know how they survived the flood.

Between the floods and the beavers we have lost a number of trees in the last year, which may open up more areas to sunlight and increased undergrowth. Also there is a strange combination of erosion and deposits of silt and sand, which may affect the lawn and other vegetation. It will be interesting to see what the Island looks like by the end of the summer.

Our Sunday afternoon work parties started last weekend. The following people came down: John and Peggy Thomson; Bill Eichbaum; Tove, Miriam and Maddie Elfstrom; Dick and Penny Doolittle; John and Johnny Stapko; Gerry Barton; Al Brown; Wayne Limberg; Jack Colwell; and of course Holly Syrrakos and myself. We tore apart the tool shed, freed the picnic tables from their places of imprisonment, cleared piles of debris, and cleaned up trash.

Some of the remaining projects are to clean out the screen porch and replace some of the brick, carry the picnic tables up to higher ground, replace and repair the wooden walkway, fill in badly eroded spots, and pick up more trash.

See you soon. Come down on Sundays, work for awhile and appreciate the bluebells and wildflowers while you're here.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker