Notes from the Island
August 1996

The Potomac continues to run high and muddy. The fishing has been poor, but the canoeing is good because there are fewer rocks to scrape on. Many members are swimming, but they have to fight the current. Several weeks ago I brought the float in to shore because of high water and the level has not dropped enough to safely paddle it back out.

The late summer flowers are starting to bloom. The January flood and the wet spring and summer have encouraged some of the plants. The jewelweed is reaching record heights and fringed loosestrife has spread all over the top of the Island. Garden phlox has proliferated near the volleyball court.

There is also our regular boneset, tickweed and swamp milkweed as well as Joe-Pye weed, which attracts the butterflies. It may be early, but I haven't seen any sign of the cardinal flowers or the swamp mallows.

Large numbers of Canada geese came through at the end of June, but they are almost all gone now. Our domestic white goose is the only one showing up for dinner at people's picnic tables. There are plenty of great blue herons around, but I haven't seen many cormorants, which is unusual. And, for some reason, I've been noticing more red bellied woodpeckers.

I haven't seen many mammals recently, but one day I watched a squirrel cross the slough on the electric line for the lights up the hill. The squirrel started from the Maryland shore and walked along the wire a few feet, fell, caught itself, got back up on the line, walked a few feet, fell, etc. until it reached the mulberry tree on the Island side.

Work continues to be done. The outdoor shower is back in working order. Now the only major project is the canoe shed.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker