Images and notes from the last two weeks on the island by Andrew Ranville.

I’ve been out on the island opening camp, preparing tools, equipment and materials for the artists visiting this year. They will start arriving in two weeks. 

+ I’ve been working on completing the tree-based studio/platform installation which is along the prominent SW to SE ridge line. 

+ Fireweed salads, a new forage experiment this year, have been great, but the plants are starting to flower and the leaves are becoming bit tough and bitter as the season shifts. I might have to start using the stems. Regardless, they have been a good source of greens on island, with many times the iron as spinach.

+ Scientists we've been collaborating with recently, John, Linda, and Tim, dropped by the island on the 5th of July. We explored the center of the island along the ridge to the highest point and then wrapped back around to the SW point. We observed primeval plants with significant variation across changes in elevation. There was quite a bit of lycopodium and some interesting areas of sedges, grasses, mosses and lichens. We also encountered evidence of rabbits in the high area of the island–popular consensus among the group was that we have rabbits living on the island now, or had them within the last couple years. (An obvious topic of conversation, given the name of the island.) We also scouted potential locations for live-trapping grids that will be used in an upcoming study of red-backed vole. Tim took samples of the algae along the coast.

+ Algae is quite pronounced this year along the entire coastline. Contributing factors could be the record-high lake temperature of the last few summers, a wet spring, or a very late spring snowfall which has left the island interior quite damp and leeching to the shoreline through the sandstone strata. Curious. 

+ We have a noticeable and annoying presence of mosquitos this year, the first time in four years.

+ I stumbled across the remains of another log cabin a few days ago a few steps in from the lake along the NE shoreline. There were timber beams interlocked on the ground, nails and some various metal objects–all obviously placed a very long time ago. Oral history from the Lahti family of Rabbit Bay speaks of a simple fishing cabin built on the island sometime between 1900 - 1920. I figure this must be it. 

+ More young eagle remains have been found. Over the last few years there have been signs of occasional eagle-on-eagle violence. The story seems to get more curious as I’ve found even more remains around the northern coastline, especially under the popular feeding/perching white pines. This year no young eagles have been seen in or around the nest and the female does not appear to have a mate. Maybe this report can shed some insight? If you study eagles please get in touch. This is potentially a good opportunity for research on the island.

The wind has picked up today making getting back to the island a bit dodgy so I plan on staying on the mainland and heading back to the island tomorrow. 

– Andrew

July 10, 2013