Thursday, September 7, 2017

SLUGS AS CARNIVORES


SLUGS AS CARNIVORES

Donald A. Windsor

As you watch slugs voraciously devour your garden plants, you probably regard them as herbivores. However, they do have a carnivorous side.

Slugs in the species Limax marginata are occasionally seen feasting on road-killed frogs and toads. On our Bullthistle hike Sunday morning 3 September 2017, we encountered this fest of slugs dining on a road-killed Red Eft (larval stage of the Red-spotted Newt).



The photo was snapped by Maryann Weiss on the Truck Trail through the Whaupaunaucau State Forest in North Norwich.

I have heard of using beer to attract slugs, but perhaps road-kill might work better.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

CHENANGO COUNTY HAS 7 HILLS ABOVE 2000 FEET


CHENANGO COUNTY HAS 7 HILLS ABOVE 2000 FEET

Donald A. Windsor

I knew that Chenango County has 6 hills above 2000 feet: 3 in Afton, 2 in Pharsalia, and 1 in Otselic (1).

However, there are 7. In mid August, 2017, I found one that I had missed.

This “new” one is in Pharsalia, east southeast of the southern sharp bend in Beardsley Road and west of County Road 42. It is on private property just east of the Perkins Pond State Forest.

High points are found by closely examining the United States Geological Survey topographic maps. I missed the 7th point because of the “1980” printed on the 1980 contour line. The 2000 contour line is too small to have its own printed designation.

So, now it is clear; we have 7 hills in Chenango County above 2000 feet. The highest is in Afton with over 2040 feet (2). Actually, there are two points over 2040 feet, but they are close together on the same hill. Thus, to be even more clear, we have 7 hills over 2000 feet, but have 8 points over 2000 feet.

To put it into perspective, all of the five counties surrounding Chenango (Madison, Otsego, Delaware, Broome, and Cortland) also have hills over 2000 feet.

Reference cited:

1. Windsor, Donald A. Souvenirs of Yesteryear. Exploring Chenango County, New York. Norwich, NY: Self published. 2008. Volume 4, pages 28-29.

2. Windsor, Donald A. The highest point in Chenango County. In: Souvenirs of Yesteryear. Exploring Chenango County, New York. Norwich, NY: Self published. 2008. Volume 1, pages 56-57. 

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

BIGFOOT IN CHENANGO COUNTY



BIGFOOT IN CHENANGO COUNTY

Donald A. Windsor

He had to arrive here sooner or later. The photo below was taken south of the Plymouth Reservoir, from the Truck Trail, where it crosses the Perrytown Creek.



It certainly looks authentic, but the giveaway is that Bigfoot does not move.

Bigfoot is really a plywood cutout, mounted on Elmer Harris Road. The man who put it there appears in the photo below.






I took both these photos on Sunday morning 30 April 2017. For more information, see our Bullthistle Hikers Group site on Yahoo.com .

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

NEW JERSEY SCUMBAG



Donald A. Windsor

The unusual message on the sign in this photo has become a local landmark.



A nasty grudge has apparently been going on for 9 years. When the first sign appeared on Stewart Road in Pharsalia I snickered and then ignored it. But it seems to have grown from a small, crudely painted one to the neatly lettered one in the photo. Taken on our Bullthistle hike on Sunday 15 January 2017.

A Google search for “New Jersey Scumbag” turned up nothing. Perhaps my Blogspot posting here will bring one.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

EXPLORING CHENANGO COUNTY BY HIKING - JULY-DECEMBER 2016


EXPLORING CHENANGO COUNTY BY HIKING – JULY - DECEMBER 2016

Donald A. Windsor

We explored 15 towns in the last half of 2016, covering a total of 147 miles. 



The best way to explore Chenango County is to walk it. I lead hikes every Sunday morning, year around, for the Bullthistle Hiking Club and report them on our Yahoo group site. Here is a summary of my reports for July - December 2016. FLT = Finger Lakes Trail.

In the last 6 months of 2016 I led 26 hikes in Chenango County. We were in 15 towns. Some hikes were in two or more towns. I prefer hiking in the woods, so we tend to go to towns where state forests are located. For more information about our hikes visit http://www.bullthistlehiking.org/

Town
Hikes
Miles
Hikers




Columbus
7 Aug = Baker State Forest
5.0
9
German
24 Jul = Buddhist Temple
6.0
8
Lincklaen
4 Sep = Upham & Hyer roads, Lincklaen
State Forest
9 Oct = Joe Road loop, Lincklaen State
Forest

7.4

6.2

6

7
McDonough
17 Jul = McDonough State Forest around
Bowman Lake area
25 Dec = FLT loop Berry Hill south
5.3

5.2
8

5
New Berlin
31 Jul = Hunts Pond State Forest
27 Nov = Button Hollow loop
4.0
6.5
3
5
North Norwich
6 Nov = Whaupaunaucau State Forest
6.3
8
Norwich
20 Nov = Greenway
4 Dec = Ravine roads loop
18 Dec = Greenway
5.7
5.6
2.5
2
7
1
Otselic
10 Jul = Plank Road
18 Sep = FLT, Bucks Brook State Forest
2 Oct = Pharsalia Wildlife Management Area
5.5
6.0
7.7
8
7
8
Oxford
30 Oct = Grog Hollow, Wiley Brook State
Forest

5.1

6
Pharsalia
10 Jul = Plank Road loop
2 Oct = Pharsalia Wildlife Management Area
23 Oct = Camp Pharsalia loop
5.5
7.7
5.1
8
8
6
Pitcher
21 Aug = Pitcher Springs State Forest
5.9
8
Preston
16 Oct = Loop southeast of Bowman Lake
up Griffin Road
11 Dec = Pryde Park loop

6.3
6.3

6
7
Sherburne
11 Sep = Hunts Mountain
5.0
9
Smithville
3 Jul = Ludlow Creek stone piles
24 Jul = Buddhist Temple
28 Aug = Genegantslet State Forest
25 Sep = Genegantslet State Forest
13 Nov = Long Pond State Forest
5.5
6.0
7.2
4.0
5.3
6
8
6
9
6
Smyrna
14 Aug = Beaver Meadow State Forest
6.8
4

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

GROG HOLLOW MONSTER



  Grog Hollow Monster
Donald A. Windsor

So here we are, right up there with the big guys. Loch Ness has Nessie; Chesapeake Bay has Chessie; Washington State has Sasquatchie, and Chenango County has the Grog Hollow Monster, Groggy.

Grog Hollow is a complex valley fed by several streams and gullies which drain multiple hilly watersheds. It lies within the Wiley Brook State Forest along the eastern edge of Oxford, near its border with Guilford. The origin of the name "Grog" remains elusive. Perhaps it is an acronym for "Gruesome Repulsive Obnoxious Ghoul". Perhaps it is an old Indian name for "Land of the bull monsters".

The focal point of Grog Hollow is now a beaver meadow. It was a large beaver pond as recently as 2003, with six tiers of dams, but the beavers have been absent since. They may have been trapped out, but I suspect they left voluntarily. The aspen and alder, their favorite foods, had been exhausted and they were forced to cut hemlocks. Beaver habitat runs in multi-decade cycles. Beavers dam a forest stream. The water kills the trees and allows sunlight to enter and a thriving pond ecosystem develops with aspen and other deciduous woody vegetation along the banks. When these plants are depleted, the beavers leave. Their dams are no longer maintained, so they fall apart. The water flows away and a luxuriant meadow results. Eventually the trees return and the cycle repeats.

The Grog Hollow monster was first made public when Bob McNitt broke the story in "The Evening Sun" on Halloween 1979. He reported what some reputable good old boys told him of their close encounters with this creature. Right after dusk, one duck hunter heard loud pounding noises that moved closer and closer. Although he was an experienced outdoors man, well accustomed to being in the woods at night, these sounds he had never heard before. Smart guy that he was, he exited. Dogs were afraid to enter the area. No signs of raccoons were evident. A large beast was seen, but was not a coyote, or a bear, and did not seem to be a panther.

To investigate this matter, Bob and two of his intrepid buddies spent an unforgettable night in the abysmal darkness of Grog Hollow. He related their experiences in another article on the following Halloween. These two articles are required reading for any seeker of local monsters.

Bob's investigation deduced that the monster may have been a bear. At least, that is what his group encountered. They heard noises at the far side of the pond and moving around to their location. Two days later, in daylight, Bob found black bear belly hair nearby. Upon my asking how he could identify belly hair, he reminded me that he is an experienced taxidermist who is familiar with the belly of the beast.

In his 1980 article, Bob uncharacteristically admits that his hair-raising experience may have not been due solely to a bear. He cautiously mentions "psychic phenomena" and "a spiritual presence", even a "murder victim's ghost".

I have to concur. I do a lot of wandering around in the woods alone and enjoy what is normally a pleasant experience. But there are some places where I become obsessed with a strong urge to depart swiftly. Grog Hollow is one of those places. It is very easy to become disoriented in there and the place can be downright spooky when the sun is suddenly blocked by a cloud. It can be a bright sunny day with no clouds in a deep blue sky, but go into Grog Hollow and a cloud somehow appears and hovers ominously overhead. Bob warns that Grog Hollow is prone to hip high fog, which makes it seem even spookier at night.

Should you ever dare to spend the night alone in Grog Hollow, you will probably not be able to sleep. The strange noises, punctuated by eerie silence, will keep you awake. But toward the long anticipated dawn you may doze off. When you do awake, the first rays of muffled light will illuminate the mysterious haze and you may not be able to see Groggy, but you will certainly feel groggy. And should you have imbibed a bit too much grog the evening before, you may awaken to a monster of a pounding headache.

Every year or so, we Bullthistle Hikers venture out onto the beaver meadow to search for Groggy. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we were not privileged to witness the monster. Perhaps Groggy departed with the beavers. Perhaps Groggy ate all the beavers. Perhaps Groggy has a craving for hikers, with a side order of bullthistles. Perhaps Groggy wants his order super-sized.

However, one time we did have a scary encounter with the Grog Hollow Monster. All's well that ends well. But for a moment, we thought we were doomed.

It was a glorious Easter morning, March 23, 2008. We had just finished a joyous sunrise service on the aptly named Gospel Hill Road. We were a small band of intrepid Bullthistle Hikers out to explore the notorious Grog Hollow. All of our previous searches were uneventful and we expected this one to be also. However, this year we hit the jackpot. Here are the harrowing details of our death-defying adventure.

As we cautiously approached the extensive beaver meadow that nestles in the Hollow, we marveled how spooky the dead trees looked, even in the bright early sunlight. The snow covering the wetland looked like white frosting on a cake. The trunks of the dead trees resembled candles. The previous day was my 74th birthday and I, proud of my status as an old geezer, was counting the "candles". My hiking buddies had paused for a refreshing slug of stale coffee and some yummy bunny-shaped sweetie cookies. We were enjoying the eerie silence of this mysterious plot of treacherous wilderness.

But then we heard a soft crunching sound on the forested edge of the frozen marsh. We all glanced in the direction of the ever louder crunches. Soon we heard the wheezing snorts of deep, heavy breathing. The unseen source was rapidly advancing towards us. Perhaps it was a bear... But then we remembered where we were and what it could be -- the dreaded Grog Hollow Monster!

I whipped out my trusty camera as we all stayed quiet, guardedly apprehensive but uncharacteristically silent. Then it appeared. It was indeed the fearsome monster. We were the luckiest, or the unluckiest, folks in the county, for we were the first people to ever witness this startling sight.

There it is in the photo. Note that it seems to be an animated outgrowth of the ominous swamp itself. Its long unruly hair seems lavishly festooned with aqueous vegetation. It reeked of marinated carrion. Although we could not see its eyes, we felt as if this fearsome beast was watching our every movement and glaring into our brazen souls.



Suddenly, the Monster pounced on one of our terrified hikers and was dragging her into the woods. I took a photo and yelled at it to let her go. To my astonishment, it did. But then it turned on me. I started running away.


When escaping from the clutches of a monster, you do not have to run faster than it -- just faster than the slower runners behind you. As I was photographing the monster, my fearful colleagues had already run away. I was the one behind. It was just the two of us, stalwart hiker versus rampaging monster. In dire situations I like to reflect on how I have gotten out of tougher jams than this, but alas, never have I ever been in such perilous danger.

I did not know what to do. So I said in a trembling voice, "Happy Easter". The monster stopped his lunging rush toward me, stood as erect as its hunched back would allow, inflated its massive hulk, and bellowed loudly, "Have a nice day".

We waved good-bye to each other and departed, I triumphantly back to my timid comrades and the monster amicably back to its wretched lair. All's well that ends well.

We have been returning to Grog Hollow every now and then, most recently on Sunday October 30, 2016. But alas, we have not seen Groggy again. We will keep looking.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

SMALL SHREW IN SHERBURNE


SMALL SHREW IN SHERBURNE

Donald A. Windsor

A small shrew was found dead by Al Marsters in his Hunts Mountain cabin on 15 October 2016.



It had a body length of 2 inches and a tail length of 1 3/8 inches. As per the table in the previous posting, it was either a Masked or a Pygmy Shrew. I could guess that it was a Pygmy because it did not have a black tip on its tail and it did have long hairs on that tip.

However, this is only a guess, not a positive identification.

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