Notes from the Island
February 1989

January was an unusually warm and balmy month. We did get one wet snow and Holly and I skied through the slush down to Lock 5 and back. Otherwise, we had mild weather.

The seagulls are wintering out on Broadwater. They float on the river and slowly drift downstream to the dam. Then they fly up near Rupperts Island and float back down again. One day I looked out and saw a swan drifting with the current surrounded by hundreds of gulls.

Last year the great blue heron left for several months. It must be difficult for them to fish once the ice starts forming. However, the weather has been warm enough this winter that at least one heron remains.

A half dozen Canada geese are staying in the area and occasionally they join our white domestic geese at feeding time. There are some mallards, grebes and wood ducks which hang out in the marshes at the northern ends of Sycamore and Rupperts. And of course there are woodpeckers, kingfishers and starlings.

The beaver continue their devastation. They are nibbling at a tree by the swim float, but the impressive clearcutting is taking place at the southern tip of the Island. I think the beaver may be dragging the maple saplings up to an island above Rupperts where they have built a lodge. They are also constructing a nice dam in the canal between Locks 5 and 6.

Holly saw a muskrat the other day. It was sitting on a branch out in the river. She was able to watch it for several minutes before it was frightened by a honking goose.

The warm temperature has been pleasant. The balmy weather has put me in the mood for Spring and wildflowers. However, I suspect we will get some snow and ice before February is over.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker