Notes from the Island
December 1989

Now that the leaves have fallen, I can see the birds. Last week a flock of robins flew through and ate all the red berries off the spice bushes. The seagulls have returned for the winter. They float out on Broadwater and soar through the air.

We only have three white geese now. I've started feeding them again, so they keep close to the Island. One lone Canada goose with a broken wing joins them when I sprinkle the corn on the riverbank.

There are still a few mallards and woodducks hanging out around the islands upstream of us. This afternoon I saw a couple of grebes out on Broadwater. One dove under water and stayed under for thirty seconds. I was impressed.

There are lots of woodpeckers. Mostly I see downy and pileated woodpeckers, but this afternoon I saw a red-bellied one. I don't know what offense it had committed, but a tufted titmouse and a downy were both twittering and hovering around the red-bellied woodpecker trying to make it fly off the tree it was hammering against.

The great blue herons are still around. I saw one down by the swimming float the other day. I was surprised at how close it let me get. I've also seen more herons perched high up in trees. Maybe they get more of the late afternoon sun that way.

And of course there are lots of starlings, sparrows, cardinals, nuthatches, and tufted titmice.

The beaver have returned. Once again they are clearcutting the maple saplings from the southern tip of the Island. Even the snow doesn't stop them. On Thanksgiving morning there were several inches of snow on the ground. Holly and I skied down to the bottom of the Island, but the beaver had beaten us to it. They had felled another tree and left their tracks in the snow.

Although the leaves and flowers are gone, Sycamore Island is still beautiful in the winter. I find it particularly stunning and peaceful on calm, balmy days during the week.

Have a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker