Ice Island

Ice Island lies in the small craft channel, about two KM east of Mallorytown Landing. Its name is quite fitting. This 1/3rd acre islet is wedge-shaped, the pointy end aimed west into the river’s relentless current. At spring breakup, especially after a cold ice-forming winter, the current carries massive to tiny flows downriver and onto Ice Island. The granite wedge is like to bow of an icebreaker ship. Ice splits on the shore and rides up and onto the island, some years forming massive pile-ups that glisten in the spring sun.

The ice riding onto the island has kept the soil layer form building up except in a few pockets and patches, and so vegetation is sparse. It has been one of the largest common tern nesting colonies in the area, though now a nesting site for cormorants. The broad shallows around the island have lush aquatic plant growth, food for diving ducks and refuge for spawning and feeding fish.

Fund needed: $5,600

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Gull/Griswold Island

Gull, also called Griswold Island is near Ice Island, just a little further southeast, and very near the international border. This roundish and flat-top islet too is nearly barren of vegetation, except for patches of grasses and herbaceous plants. Rare species of minnows are known from the island’s shallows. As Ice, this island too was a common tern and herring gull colony site, now dominated by cormorants. While controversial, the double-crested cormorant has always been present though in smaller numbers as part of the river ecology.

Gull/Griswold has a small, stone and now roofless cabin. It was owned over a century ago by Frederick Bourne, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine company, and who had a castle on nearby Dark Island. Bourne was an avid hunter, and built the cabin to shelter guests, who took up station for the fall duck hunt in one or other of the small stone blinds still present around the island’s perimeter. And so this island combines both natural and cultural history.

Both Ice and Gull/Griswold Islands are in a ‘staging ground’ – a gathering place in spring for often massive rafts of greater and lesser scaup, ring-neck ducks, canvasback, bufflehead and many other ducks and geese. Through the summer, the air is full of gulls and cormorants, foraying to feed. Perhaps one day, TIWLT will have the resources to work at restoring the islands to again host a common tern colony. In any event, these little islands continue to play an important role in the river ecology of the Thousand Islands.

Fund needed: $4,700

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