Notes from the Island
July 2004

You should all be pleased to hear that the Sycamore trail has been much improved. Matt Berres from the Potomac Conservancy, along with Eagle Scout troop 1800 and me, braved the early rain and worked hard all day fixing the trail. With materials donated by the National Park Service and Sycamore Island, we put in new timbers and moved many wheelbarrows of new dirt. I'm very happy with the new trail; it should make my life a little easier. One problem: We'll have to relearn our steps now so we can walk it in the dark.

I had a really great group of sixth-graders here. I led them on a nature hike around the island and we were very lucky to see a wide variety of wildlife. I was amazed at how much the kids already knew about natural history and it was fun for me to lead such an enthusiastic and interested group. Later that day we found a bee's nest under the club canoes. Luckily I was the only one stung as I urged the children to "RUN"! I've since exterminated the nasty buggers from their nest. Poor bees. I found the nest of the prothonotary warblers that I've been seeing and hearing. This beautiful songbird has built a nest inside a metal tube on an old basketball rim, and it's only three feet off the ground! (Alas, Dave Winer believes the warblers may have succumbed to "nature red in tooth and claw.")

We also had a large troop of girl scouts down here one day. I think they, and their parents, had a great time and they earned their canoeing badges too!

One morning I saw David and George on the towpath. They were fly fishing for carp using (not real cicadas but) cicada flies. When I mentioned that I saw the carp eating the mulberries George told me that they have imitation mulberry flies as well. I saw a goose eat a cicada. I thought they were strict vegetarians but I guess they don't mind a little protein snack once in a while. There's one goose who has perfected it's own grazing technique. It will swim in place and eat the cicadas and mulberries that float by.

I met the new owners of the Sycamore store; they seem like they are going to be good neighbors. You might see the girls and me working in the yard over there, they've agreed to let us cut their grass. [Sherry Pettie will have more details on the new owners and their plans for the Sycamore Store in the August issue.]

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker