Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A bit about me, BF entertainment vs actual investigation, and my future involvement

Been a while, and figured I would post about something.. now, while I have the time to write it. Next year is going to start out slow, but end up being one of the busiest, craziest, and intense.. of my life, I'm imagining. I probably won't have time to blog much, and have other things on my mind. I'm going to retire next year, and move out of here. Not just NY State, but the country. My wife and daughter will go first, so she can start her 4th grade school year (which starts in June) in the Philippines.. which is her and my wife's native born land. Our move will be a big one, and done in several stages. I'll be around.. for up to a year longer here, as I have to go through 50 plus years of belongings in the house I grew up in, and settle my mother.. either where she is now (in a nursing home), or with my brother.. if she recovers from her advancing dementia. I also need to get the house ready to sell, have a massive household sale on items not claimed or wanted by the family.. and probably get a dumpster and favorite charity destination, for the rest of the stuff. We plan on shipping our things we can take, by flat rate large boxes, with a Pinoy overseas shipper we know. I'm betting, we will need at least 50 of those boxes. I also need to settle all my financial affairs, so I am set up to manage them overseas, and not have to travel back 9000 miles, unless it's a real emergency. I really won't be able to afford much travel for the first 4-5 years.. until my 2nd pension kicks in at age 60. I need to work 300 hours next year, for that to happen. That.. is much more difficult in these times, than one might imagine. I'm taking a reduced pension, and getting out of a trade that I absolutely now hate. I don't hate the work.. just the people, and what it's become. A trade of quantity, not quality. I can't compete, and I know it now.. for sure, after this past summer on a "hard money" job. Gone are the days, when other tradesman took care of someone recovering from surgery and hurting. Everyone is scared for their own jobs, and in too much of a hurry to help anyone else. It's every man for themselves. It used to be an actual union.. but now, it is only called one by name. Not much about.. what once made it great, is left at all. I'm tired of the competition. Competition for Everything.. competition at work, shopping, driving, games, holidays, hobbies, and Yes... even in the inconclusive word of BF and cryptids. I need a change, and the Pinoy culture will hopefully be.. the right recipe for me. I'm pretty sure.. it is already the right one, for my wife and daughter. Choices are.. grow old here with a tight meager income, due to a previous divorce and the reduced pension, and have to take another peanut job to make ends meet.. if I want to do anything, besides sit and look out the window. Gripe about the changes in our declining culture, and not like Anything I see and read... or else Do something about it.. and move away, escape, and change it all. Move to a culture of respect and family, and a traditional religious Christmas... where things are slowed down, to almost aggravating levels . A culture where there is no political correctness, free handouts, affirmative action, or racism. Where I can at least.. afford to have a decent retirement life, and give my daughter a better education, make my wife happier in a culture she likes better and feels comfortable, and grow old where the elderly are greatly respected and cared for. The choice, did not take a lot of thought or brains, to make. No place is perfect, and there will be set backs and things I won't like.. but I think.. far less, than what is bugging me here in America these days, and I see happening around me.. here, in NY. I won't understand the things in that culture so well, that do bug me.. and that is actually a good thing. On to BF. The pros of greater "public awareness" of the topic: More witnesses come forward, and report what they've seen and heard. They see it on reality TV, and it encourages them to file a documented report.. which gives those interested.. more data to ponder. Witness accounts, are really the Only thing I care about watching, on TV BF. This has brought forward many witnesses, including one I've worked with in NY. At first, I wanted to believe him. After spending 3 nights investigating and recording on his property, and getting to know him well... I lean toward.. him maybe just wanting to be part of this whole new kind of BF excitement and fantasy. Much of what he told me, was very believable.. but then he went and changed a few key parts of his story, while puffing continuously on medicinal doobies. I think he might have witnessed something.. but it became greatly exaggerated by his condition. He told me he never watched any TV BF.. but later on, his late night campfire babbles.. told me different. No grudges on my part.. except, I won't be wasting anymore field time there. If I ever want a great hippy type guy, just to hang with and talk BF.. well, I know where to go. That's Not what I'm involved in this for. I really think.. that this type of witness.. happens more often, than the ones where a follow up investigator, can collect factual data. I have other local areas to investigate, where I witnessed strange activity. Now That guy (me), I can still believe. The cons, are far more numerous: A new breed of interested TV fan, that mixes in on the forums, facebook, and into mainstream bigfootery. Not necessarily always a con.. but when added up, the negatives are overwhelming.. from what I've read the past 4 years or so. This also gives those already established groups, more interested newbies for fanfare support. It creates the more established popular BF personalities, the opportunities to capitalize. Not all do, but many have, and are trying. How is this done ? TV reality shows, radio shows, conferences, forums, blogs.. and any other way they can get their message across to the masses. Why ? They do it for money, attention, "likes" on facebook, self promotion, and some.. just to get their point of opinion across, with no other motives. Some still, do it just because they like the topics so much.. but they are a minority. Sadly, it's All just opinion.. including my own, and everything you read in my blog, that is BF related. Yes, it did happen, and I did experience it.. as it also happened to many others. But conclusions, are just guesses, theories, and speculation. TV BF, has also released a new breed of entertainer and wannabee, that will stop at nothing to get attention, and get their mug and story on TV, or at least a blogtalk show. I've noticed a surge of it, after the first season of "Finding Bigfoot" aired. Many of these folks.. were not even heard of, prior to 2010. Fortunately, this is all limited to the TV and computer world of bigfootery (humans, without Any actual BF), and can be turned off. What really has upset me the most, is how it has effected my (our) investigations in the field. Primarily , on public lands. Everyone that watches Animal Planet, now knows what we do in the field, and why.. that only 4 years ago, did not know, nor did most even care.. aside from a few brief curiousity conversations with passing campers / hikers / rangers. The technique of calling out, and then listening, in hopes of that "unknown" response, or amplified call blasting into the late night darkness, to try and get a distant "unknown's" attention or response.. has become a thing of the past. Unless, you like to get human responses from Animal Planet watchers, that want to join in and play games with you. If That's your thing.. well, you're in luck.. thanks to reality BF TV. I see it only getting worse, with even more of these entertainment shows, on the horizon. Anywhere you car camp, and are within earshot or vocal range of another campsite.. this seems to happen. Twice, in our last two times out.. as a group. It happened.. in several of the wildest, most remote, primitive camping locations left in NY. I even have recorded evidence, of a young man mentioning "Bobo" to his girlfriend, before knocking and hollering back, from their distant campsite. There were only a couple campsites occupied, and well spread out...but that doesn't matter, as the rest of the nights recording efforts, are now contaminated with distant human vocals. In the not too distant past, a recorded gorilla or orangutan call blast at high volume.. would send other campers or partiers packing, or at least..cause them to go quiet. Now, they know exactly what and why we are doing.. thanks again.. to TV series BF, and this greater "public awareness" of the topic. Solutions ? Either don't call out and remain quiet, or risk being responded to. This limits the potential, IMO.. for getting the attention of what might be out there within earshot. You can find public lands, where there are no other campsites, but your own. They can be found, but are often limited to 4WD, narrow, no way out path cuts to an overgrown location. Buggy swampy spots, that few would want to camp. You can get onto private land, or put on a backpack, and get much deeper into remote public lands. Unfortunately, my days of that.. are about over. Private land opportunities, are not exactly knocking our doors down. For me.. too many abdominal surgeries, scar tissue, and too much equipment to carry through rough terrain. That's where these things are, and your best chances for interaction. 10 years ago, I would still be game. Meanwhile, the groups /promoters of the culprit TV shows.. must be making a good living , and a killing in promotions / sales.. off the TV show... while the actual mystery, Still remains a mystery. Do you ever think, that they might Want it that way ? Unfound BF... is now a retail item, and Very much for sale. If ever found and documented.. science and maybe the Gov men in black.. take over, and the $$ honey stops, for the commercial Moneymakers and various other leaches, self promoters, tag alongs, con men, entertainers, attention seekers, hoaxers, and exploiters... they go home and can no longer exploit BF, and charge for camping trips, like they did in the past. People will probably be seeking the Real answers, and looking elsewhere, to what science tells them is fact.. and not to the circus promoters. For now, the circus is all that's in town. What does this mean for my future in this topic of interest ? To be honest, I've gradually become less and less interested, and am at the point now, where I'm downright disgusted and cynical over the topic. Sometimes, I want to lash out at those I think are exploiting it.. but then, they have that right to do as they please.. just like me. We are all involved in such things, for various different reasons. What I might think is wrong, others are fine with. I still have my personal field experiences on my mind, with lots of unanswered questions. But you know what ? .. they are most likely going to remain unanswered, and my field experiences.. just another unsolved mystery. I've come to that realization, and have somewhat accepted that reality. Yes, I can move on.. and changing locations to another culture and country, will help me with that, a great deal. I'll have plenty to stimulate me and think about, other than this crap. Which brings up, my future in this interest of cryptids and field investigations. Next year, I'm going to be out in the field.. every chance I get. It will be my last year doing it here, and I will certainly make the time, to do it as often as possible.. despite having other priorities and goals, I need to accomplish in 2014. I will need extended breaks in the forest, and it's serenity.. to unwind and flush out my head with future frustrations, that I anticipate. I plan on doing it solo, and also with a group. No different than I do now, really. I'm going to enjoy it, and not make it a chore or a competition. I don't expect to record or witness anything, I haven't already. What I Do expect.. is to relax, enjoy, and have some fun. Do I plan on pursuing the same interest in the Philippines ? Eventually.. yes. I don't expect to be out on tropical forest trips / excursions.. my first year there, and may not even be at all, until we are completely settled. I have no idea when that will be. We'll be renting first, closer to the city.. and eventually, and hopefully.. be able to build a place out in the province, on our empty property. Any forest excursion there, takes planning, and some help. You just don't pack up and jump into your car, and drive into forest, like you would here. You need a guide, porters, permits, permissions, and the right gear. Conditions will be harsher, then what I'm used to here. I found that out on a few birding excursions into the mountains, there. I was banged up, drenched with sweat, and exhausted.. but satisfied by what I saw and experienced. I was also, ten or 15 years younger. If you've watched shows about excursions in Indonesia and Vietnam .. it will be similar, minus the snakes. Plenty and creepies, dangers, and intense humidity and downpours. No big cats, wild canines, or other large predators to worry about, though. It's the small things in the jungle, that might get you. That's where a guide with native know how, becomes so valuable. That might all come in time, if my life and health will allow. I have a list of places, already lined up. What kind of things will I investigate ? Cultural cryptids, along with known flora and fauna. Endemic birds, mammals, and herps are high on my list. My wife had seen a large hairy creature, as a girl. I believe her. Many are very afraid of a winged creature that wants to enter their homes at night. I don't know what to make of the Aswang legend.. but I know the Pinoys take it very seriously. It is blamed for many misfortunes at night in Pinoy culture, including stillborns and other unexplained deaths. Is it just a large fruit bat (flying fox)? Many think so, but I doubt that, now ..after discussing the subject with those willing. Often, I have to cover a night excursion into the forest, with a known subject (like owls, or nightjars) . Why ? It is hard to find a native guide to take you looking for a cultural cryptid. They really want no part of that, and fear can override the guide fee. The Only one that was willing to take me into the forest at night, on Palawan.. was a German.. that owned (through his wife) the eco lodge and grounds I stayed at. Even an American expat I've been in contact with, that was a skeptic of such cryptids.. is now a believer in the Aswang. He doesn't know or has heard much.. about large BF like hairies, such as the Agta or Kapre. I guess, I'll be finding out for myself... as usual. I'm expecting the results to probably be.. more questions then answers. Not any different, than my investigations results here.. but within a more livable, easy going culture and people. Until next time ...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Audio Research 101

This is just to help those... that are willing to listen , and really want to be able to separate known sounds, from those that could be classed as unknown. The thing that really helped me, was to put out a long term (overnight is fine) recorder in an area of interest, and listen to All of the audio.. and not just review the WAV or spectral peaks in the files. Although there is no way to really put a positive source to the unknown sounds and vocals.. you can learn a hell of a lot about known sounds and vocals. It has been a very educational tool for me, and has greatly helped me in separating what should be there, and what might even be more interesting. The internet is a wonderful resource, for comparing recorded sounds against known bird, animal, and insect sounds. It can also be used to hook up with other recordists, and compare and share your unknowns. I am stymied by the number of sasquatch enthusiasts, and (so called) researchers.. that don't know a Barred Owl call, from an unknown vocal. This owl is by far, the biggest fooler.. and will openly admit, it fooled me in my early years of this interest, on several occasions. Coyotes, and other woodland canines, can also make some surprising sounds. Still, I have heard vocals within coyote activity.. that seem to chime in, but don't sound canine. Whether they are, or not.. is still to be determined. A big (if nearly impossible) challenge.. but that is what makes the hobby, so interesting. I made sure to educate myself, all I could .. by getting a CD of all owl calls and variations of them, in the eastern US.. as well as vocals of known mammals, amphibians, and insects. In addition, the long term recording has shown me even more variations of known wildlife and woodland sounds, not found on any CD. In the future, I will have to do that all over again, in the Philippines... where known sounds and vocal recordings, are not readily available. How am I going to figure all that out ? I'm going to try and find a way, and it should keep me interested for the remainder of my days (and nights). Separating the known , from the unknown.. is a continual challenge, and something needed to be updated, and kept current. This should be the first step, one should take.. before trying to figure out what is making the unknown sounds and vocals.. which is plenty hard enough, without confusing them with the known ones.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vermont voodoo... and / or other unexplained field happenings

The more time I spend in quality locations out in the field, the more complex and confusing things seem to get, and the questions it all brings out.. as far as what is really going on, out there at night. This past spring, we held our first ever expedition, in the Green Mountain NF, in Vermont. The area we chose was within the "Bennington Triangle", which is noted for hundreds of years worth of strange incidents, UFO sightings, people disappearing, and yes.. sasquatch reports. The "Bennington Monster" was said to have attacked a stage coach (full of passengers) in the early part of the 19th century. Reported sightings and incidents have occurred since, but spaced out by many years.. right up to present times. The Native Americans thought the mountain and surrounding area.. was cursed, and avoided it. Most of the main road and rustic camping areas, were still closed to vehicle traffic.. due to the storm damage (downed trees and washed out roads) from hurricane Irene. We settled into a nice large area, to camp.. just a short walk to the gated road that leads into the depths of the forest. We did a day hike, to scout out some locations, to hold our first night's OP. Two of us, also climbed a ridge and found a good level spot near the top.. to set up a camera trap, bait, and my audio recorder. It was right next.. to some of the most dense, mature, and dark forest, I'd been in, in a while. We found a couple suitable areas that looked good for observation and listening. We noticed right away, that radio communication with the base camp was not good, and spotty, at best. We were between a couple mountains... but nothing we hadn't done in similar conditions in the Adirondacks, while not experiencing anything quite like we were.. that hampered our communications, throughout the outing. This interference, was at times.. all out failure, while other times, random.. and would go from radio to radio. I walked right next to another researcher, and could hear his transmission, but nothing on my own radio.. and then, it would reverse.. I could hear the transmission, and he could not. When I replied, he heard nothing from my transmission.. standing 6 foot away from him. As a former communications (CSI) specialist, I am stumped by what occurred.. but still think it could be something natural. Solar activity, or magnetic mineral deposits in the mountain ?. But I would also think it would have effected everything at once ( All radios ), and not the strange pattern of bouncing from one radio to the next, as I described above (?) We sat in teams in the locations, while the audio recorders did their thing. At around the hour just before midnight.. is when things happened. We got a transmission, that one team member in the other team of 3.. was going in for a closer look in the forest near an abandoned campground.. after hearing sounds and movements. Much to our dismay, and frustration.. we could not communicate with him, nor his team, during the incident. It got to the point where we relayed transmissions to the base camp (that we received ..broken up, and randomly).. where our coordinator, was getting quite worried about not hearing from the investigator, and wanting us to go and get him out of the lone situation, being it at night and the situation at hand. Finally, to all our relief.. we did hear from him, and that he was out and back in the open campground, with the rest of his team. One member, had first heard some branch snapping and what sounded like sizable movements. When he went in to get closer, he shined a light on what looked like a large fallen over stump, that was between two other large trees. Something about the stump, looked out of place there, and he noted several lighter patches on it, and that it almost looked like something hairy.. but was totally still, and blended in very well. Finally, after observing it for a period of time.. he shined the light elsewhere. Upon the investigator moving, and then shining the light back to the same location (between the trees).. the "stump" was gone. This got him quite excited, but also wanting to rejoin his team , and out of his solo situation in the dark. No sound was heard in the exit, of whatever this was (sound familiar ?). Just after (all within a 20 minute time frame) this happened to the team of three.. the two of us also had some interesting things go on, at our locale. My partner thought he observed dull and blinking red eye shine, in the direction not far from where he placed his recorder. He wasn't sure at first, but after seeing it again, down further.. he mentioned it to me, and I called it in to our coordinator at base. Not more than several minutes later, I caught a dark, low movement with my peripheral vision, that crossed the forest road in a low spot.. maybe 20 yards away from us (we were sitting back, to back), and then.. the same dull red eye shine, that fit the description of what my partner had seen. This got us excited, as well. Just to note.. the eye shine we each saw was similar, if not an exact matching description. My partner, noted what he saw as about 6' off the ground, while what I saw was very low, and maybe 3' off the ground, and on the move. I also heard a single tree tap (what sounded like one) directly out in front of me. The timing of these events, seemed to indicate something that moved around us, and than was gone. No further incidents happened that night, nor the next night while sitting out on the night OP. I was quite dismayed.. how the tree tap, did not come through in my audio, as my recorder was running during the entire event. Next day, we investigated the area, and one member found a good track.. that was right in the same low area, I noted the movement and eye shine. It was 15" x around 4 -5" wide, and had all the same characteristics of the tracks we observed and cast, in the Adirondacks, last fall. It was also going in the direction that I noted the movement and blinking dull eye shine. Does this conclude anything ? Does it ever ? I was quite happy for Mike.. who has been at this longer than me, and was unable to pull his cast (we were chased out by a looming snow storm) track in the Adirondacks last fall. This time.. it went well, and there was something to bring home and show for his (and all of our) efforts in the field. On the final night, two other members joined us (husband and wife). The members had recorded some interesting howls in Mass., on an earlier date.. and proceeded to play the recordings for us in base camp, over dinner. It was very interesting audio, but the lady member continued to play it at full volume.. over and over again. I wish I could have convinced her to upload in to the website, so I could have compared it to what I recorded here in Vermont, around the same time the other incidents took place. She seems to have her own ways, and agendas, and is not one for taking suggestions.. although I do like her, I am quite disappointed with her attitude in sharing her audio.. to work with, to at least.. compare. What exactly are we out doing this for, in a group with a (supposed)like minded membership ? Later, she took her husband home (they only lived an hour away), and then came back with another person, that was not a full member (much to our dismay). On the drive back into the forest, she claims to have been followed by an bright amber colored, glowing sphere of light (or orb).. that kept pace with the vehicle, until it finally veered off, and disappeared over one of the many bodies of water, next to the forest road. We had just gotten back from our night OP, and she seemed very freaked out by it, and her story was confirmed by her passenger (and uninvited guest). I found it interesting.. fitting in well with the legend of the place, and other weirdness.. but decided not to ride along , when several of them went back to investigate. As mentioned, I did pick up some rather distant, but interesting audio, that I clipped out of the long overnight recordings. One, was a high pitched two toned sound or call, that sounded somewhat similar to what our couple recorded, in Mass. : In addition, I also recorded this very strange sounding vocal (if a vocal) that sounded like chanting or humming. It had the same nature of the high pitched call, but was almost 600Hz lower. Shown here in a spectrogram screen capture : I am convinced of the strangeness of that place, but have no good explanations (so what's new ?) for any of it. I think it is a worthy locale for future outings and investigations. Also worthy of a long term audio recording project. Could the locals and Native Americans be right about this area ? I would have to say from my first experience there.. probably, yes. It will be interesting, to note what happens.. the next time around. A brand new term was born ( The Glastonbury Grassman ), in our group dictionary of squatchy things. While walking back and scanning the grassy bog (see attached photo) at night, we came upon a shape that appeared like it could be a crouching creature, in the water. It was just a trick of the dark and our shining lights, but got one of the members curious enough to lob a rock at, the out of place, grassy mound. Nothing happened ( of course ), but got the rest of us thinking.. was that a good choice, to lob a rock at.. something you're not completely sure what it is, yet.. in the dark (?) That time, it was good for a few nervous laughs, and broke up the monotony of many hours spent.. just listening and watching in the dark, quietly. That is what this nocturnal research, mainly consists of. You have to like doing it, and know that eventually.. more interesting things are bound to happen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A trackway find, surrounded by more forest unknowns

In the fall of 2011, our group expedition was conducted in a vast wilderness area, in the southern Adirondacks.. where we had not held a group outing, before. This area, had some reported sightings before, and again after.. this outing took place.
Due to a very early cold spell in October, that threatened the east coast with heavy snow.. the attendance was low, and there were only three of us. We met up, and chose a campsite that we thought was suitable, that was naturally carved into a ridge line, with higher ground on each side of us. We thought it would be a great spot to be "observed" by anything that wanted to do so. It would not of been a great spot to set up tents, during a time when heavy rain was forecast.. but not the case here.
We kept one ear on the NOAA weather forecast, and set up our camp. Temps were only in the 20s, and did not break freezing, the entire weekend.
Taking an afternoon hike out of camp, we came upon an area we thought would be suitable for a night OP, that overlooked a grassy clearing, with the forest dirt road, and thicker forest on the opposite side . Upon investigating, we decided on a spot for a camera trap, and to hang pheromone bait. One investigator found a large area of matted down grass, that looked like deer had been using it as a bed down spot. Another, had found some questionable impressions on the roadside (in the softer ground) that resembled the shape of large human tracks, but did not offer much detail. Everything was carefully documented, as one investigator and myself started to slowly walk back to camp on the forest road, while the other finished photographing and measuring the impressions.
Branch snaps were heard, which drew my fellow investigator to the forest edge to listen, and then he walked a little ways in. More snaps were heard, that got him a little further into the thicker forest, while I watched him from the road. He then.. called us into the area, and sounded pretty excited. He explained how he had noticed a dark shape in the distance, that moved in between several trees, at around 70 yards or so away. Also, he pointed out what looked like several fresh tracks in the lite (half inch or so) of new fallen snow that still remained in the forest, from a day earlier. The tracks were quite deep (at least 1.5 " at the heal), and had a clear shape of a human-like foot, with the ball of heal clearly defined, and the outline of the toe area. No detail in individual toes were noted, due to the leaf and twig debris on the mossy mounds below the snow. It was also clear, that there was a higher (more shallow) ridge that was consistently noted at about 4-5 " from the back of the heal (seemed like a crossing high point.. break, or flex point of the tracks), on all the 12" tracks that were found.. as more were also found, that lead away from the road.. until we could no longer see anymore. This was impossible to follow.. in case anyone reading, is wondering why we didn't follow them (we did). We lost the trail, not far from the original find.
We were all convinced, that this was a fresh and substantial find, and it probably never would have ever been noticed, except for the investigator being drawn in by the branch snapping sounds, and the lite coating of snow.. that made the tracks pretty obvious, and easier to find. We were losing daylight fast, and decided to comeback the next morning, and continue to document and cast, the best tracks. It was very exciting, to say the least. It led us to think, that maybe something was watching us across the road in the clearing, from behind a tree and cover of the forest.. while we were doing our investigating and set up.
Back at camp.. we discussed our plans for the evening, while cooking some dinner. We all are believers in audio use in the field, so we all set up separate audio in various locations around camp, and I also set out a remote recorder, at another campsite.. that was next to the stretch of forest we found the tracks in. The weather forecast for the next day.. was sounding more "iffy", and we decided that we would listen more carefully in the morning, and decide or plans.. pending on the forecast, for the next days activities. We also decided not to pitch tents, with temps falling into the teens. We would all be in our vehicles, for the overnight. Also, being there was only three of us.. we decided against the out of camp night observation, because of the extreme cold potential.. and decided to just spend the night near a campfire, and act like campers.. and just see and note what happens.
During the evening, we made a few call outs and wood knocks, but heard no responses. There was a couple strange sounds, and a projectile of some kind.. that sounded like it bounced off the wooden privy outhouse. I decided to throw a small rock, back in the direction the projectile seemed to come from (up on the ridge above camp). I short while later, another was heard hitting in the same area, to our north.. near the back of camp, and outhouse. Maybe it was an acorn dropping on a calm windless night, or it was something being thrown. I don't think the right kind of White Oak trees, were up there, and not directly over the camp.. but it is something we will follow up on, if we do return.. which is very likely. We joked about this, and how the sounds were near the outhouse. A wide range of outhouse jokes, caused us to hurt our sides laughing.. obviously overtired from the drives, and the days activities and cold weather. The campfire, was a God sent. The sky was clear, and it was going to get.. even colder.
The next morning.. we ate, and packed up our equipment, and moved it over to the campsite closest to the forest area and trackway, while I retrieved my still running audio recorder. After another weather check.. the storm system ws predicted to dump 3-5 inches of snow in the county just to our east, and maybe even in our area, which was a downgrade from what was originally predicted. That made us decide to not spend another night in this forest, where a few inches of snow might make driving out, a real challenge on the steep rough roads, filled with large rocks sticking out, and the looming possibility of tree branches coming down , in a heavy wet snowfall.
Another trackway (that appeared to be coming from the south, and headed north, and an entrance to the area.. as the first one discovered ..was an exit..and headed south ) yielded a couple larger prints, also fresh.. that were Not there, the day before.. when the first trackway was found. This led us to think, another culprit (larger, as the tracks were in the 15-16" range) came back (maybe mama ?).. after we left, and went back to camp. It also demonstrated.. just how hard these impressions are to spot, without the lite snow (that finally melted from sunlight).. compared to the day before. These larger tracks, also ended up stopping, behind a tree. One track , that was cast, looked like at had smashed a branch down into it.. that would have caused a mighty sore foot, if it was a person in bare feet that did it. That notion.. is much more ridiculous, than thinking the tracks came from a sasquatch, IMHO. It was Very clear, that the tracks came from a barefoot, and not a boot.
We decided to stay packed, and get the trackway documented and casts made. This took much longer than expected, as the cold temps made ultracal 30.. take much longer than 30 minutes, like it normally would take to dry in warmer conditions. After hours of waiting, and going back (from the second campsite) and checking.. only one cast could be pulled out of the ground, while the other was just too tacky, to try and pull. We decided, it would be retrieved at another time, in the future.
Upon saying our goodbyes.. it was past mid afternoon. It took me until it just started to get dark, to get back to paved roads, and on toward home. The weather held nicely for the drive home, and the storm stayed well to my east, with the October snow dumping record amounts on New England and eastern NY, eastern PA, and NJ. I saw tons of deer on the drive out of the mountains, and narrowly missed hitting several, that bolted out near the sharp curves of the two lane road. In one larger town, I passed through (Old Forge).. they were walking right on the sidewalks, in the almost abandoned.. Saturday night, post tourist season.
Conclusions from this experience and outing..
Photos did not do the tracks any justice. Much more detail can be seen with the human eye, which is always the best camera. This is something to bare in mind, while researching.. to always document and describe what is found in as much detail as you can.. in the field, as the photos and casts ..will not only.. not impress viewers, but will not show details you noticed live in the field, with your own eyes.
The strangeness of the surrounding events, is uncertain.. from what could have been watching us before the trackway find, to what could of been thrown our way, when we sat at the campfire.
The audio results were interesting, as usual. My fellow investigator recorded some loud branch snaps and possible footfalls, from where he placed his recorder.. up on the ridge, above our first camp. Like most audio, it is inconclusive.. but confirmed the strangeness we experienced. The other investigator, took over.. because of the absence of our friend (do to his work place responsibilities) that usually records all our field events, at the base camp. He did a great job with this, noting and covering everything, and plans to compile a complete expedition report.. soon.
I recorded one vocalization, that was determined to take place after we all were in our vehicles, for the night. It was not audible from our camp, but recorded from the other camp, near the forest area that contained the partial trackways. I think it is consistent with other recorded audio from NY and PA, but is well within the human vocal range. The closet campers (hunters) to us, were at least a 10 minute drive away, so it being them.. was unlikely, but not impossible. Here is the link to the clip, from the overnight recording :

There was another report of a sighting, taken by a fellow investigator.. from the same general area, that confirms that this is an area, worth further investigation.. Indeed .

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cancer.. how much does it suck ( let me count the ways )

I received some news, that took the wind right out of my sails. It turned my thoughts from home project goals, recording, camping and sasquatch investigations, into a more complex, agonizing, and puzzling mystery... called cancer. No, not me... but a recurrence in my son.
It is a heart breaker, to be declared cancer free, after almost 9 years of periodic scans and tests that showed... absolutely nothing. He was just 15 when diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma (a rare, cancer of the soft tissue.. often on limbs and the body extremities), having a fist sized tumor grow on his right thy... while my ex wife and myself were at the threshold of a divorce, in 2002. The tumor had not matastasized (or did it ?) and it was successfully removed, after chemo and radiation treatments, and 10 hours of surgery.. that left his leg a mess, and put him out of commission for a year. After more chemo, much rehab, an outstandingly positive attitude, and the desire to get back to a normal teens seemed it was finally all behind him.
What exactly causes these left over cells, to lay dormant for 9 years, and then suddenly multiply and grow again ? Well... if you don't know, don't feel bad... because neither do the oncologists and treatment specialists. They thought they had gotten it all. That form of cancer, has a high probability of recurrence, but usually within the five years after the surgery and post chemo treatments.
A much smaller (but deep rooted) tumor is now growing next to his scar tissue, from the 2002 surgery. The choices for him, are not great. He can have the team of medical personnel, take the same approach to the problem, as was done in 2002 (chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo, rehab) . It didn't end his problem then, and it is always possible, it could reoccur again. It could also end up spreading elsewhere, in the future (who knows ?...they sure don't). Fortunately, it looks to be contained to the leg again, from the results of his PET scan.. which is the only good news, so far. Amputation of the right leg, is another option. Even after this, it is not any guarantee, that the cursed growth could not reemerge elsewhere in his body. It would, lessen the needed radiation and horrificly strong chemo treatments required, if saving the leg was his choice. My son doesn't seem to shudder at all, at the thoughts of a prothstetic leg.. as long as the cancer is gone from his body and life. Still, no guarantees this would even do it. Better odds, but it's really all a gamble.
So, that is the choice a 24 year old has to make, and not a whole lot of time, to think it over. All I can do... is support his choice, and stand behind him, and help him in any way, that I can. I am no huge president Obama fan...but one thing I'll say, is that his health bill came at the right time for my son. He has already graduated from college. Like so many now in this current depressed economy, there are no decent job opportunities in his field of study, and his part time jobs do not offer any health insurance. Now... just imagine facing this personal crisis, without any health insurance. Fortunately, he is still covered on mine, until age 26. I thank God for this.
The hardest thing about this... is not knowing exactly what to do next, but also knowing that something has to be done, without delay. So Please, if you read this.. say a prayer for him.
Somehow I know he will get through this OK, like the last time. It won't be easy for him, or anyone involved that cares about him.. but he has.. an upbeat, "let's get it over with, so I can move on with my goals in life" ... attitude, that I am totally impressed and uplifted with. I can't say I would be the same, facing this kind of thing (for the second time) at his age, or even at my age. He is my hero, now. When I grow up... I want to be just like him.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A sighting in the forest

I wanted to post this entry, as I have (so far) kept this information, on a secure part of the home research forum, told only to trusted friends, expedition and forum members of NESRA, and some close family.

On October 23, 2010, during the Fall NESRA expedition, while out on what I refer to now as the "leafy knoll" , along with my two OP partners .. I had a brief, but electrifying sighting of a figure that I caught a glimpse of (that was on the move), with my Gen 2 night vision goggles.

We had made a plan in basecamp during dinner, for two other members, to call blast..on the hour, from their position near base, while two other investigators did some observing from various positions on the forest road, while the three of us I mentioned, took position on various observation points in the forest, on the selected knoll, where myself and another investigator had sat the night before. Our home basecamp man, would be coordinating and noting our events, back at our main camp.

Several of us, had heard a softer rapping (like wood on wood), coming from behind our position. The sounds were much like.. when one would test a hand held hardwood knocker, for the best tone, on a selected tree. This came from behind us, near the blazed trail that we had walked into this position, from.

The 3rd call blast from the basecamp, came at 10PM, and was an Orangutan vocalization. I was already panning the lower areas of the forest to the east and south with the goggles. I made sure that I was observing during all of the call blasts, and as much as possible in between times.

I'm not sure of the exact time of the sighting, but know that it came in the moments after the call blast.

The actual sighting facts :

I was panning with the goggles (facing south) slowly from left to right (east to west) near the edge of the heavier forest canopy, when a dark figure emerged (in an swath of open forest floor, that was very well illuminated by moonlight) from behind a lite barked, large mature (birch or beach) tree, and moved rapidly to the west, toward the direction one investigator had set out the bacon bate, hair trap, and game cam.
To describe the shape of the figure: It was thin and had a forward leaning gait. During this brief observation, I saw the top of the figure rear back and then go back forward again, before I lost sight of it. It never re - emerged from behind a set of two large trees, that were closer to my location. I noticed no eyeshine or arm swing, and could not define the head area (definitely was a rounded top) of the figure, very well.. from the rest of the body. I'm uncertain, if I viewed the entire length of the figure, or only saw it from the waste area...up. I say this, because I did not notice any leg movement. One thing for sure... the dark figure covered 20 plus yards, in less than 2 seconds. It seemed to me... to almost glide through, in a very rapid, smooth motion. The thin moving figure, was as dark in appearance, as the darkest objects (more distant trees) in my FOV, accept for the top head and rear upper body area, that was illuminated by moonlight. The observation lasted between 1 and 2 seconds, to my best estimate. Upon seeing this, I unleashed an emotional outburst, that caused me to fall forward and drop my goggles, and almost tumble down the hill in front of me. The fact that spotting this figure.. caught me by surprise, and the fact that it made no sound while on the move…did freak me out, and seemed almost unreal. It was however, very real. I was immediately joined at my position by the two others, asking me if I was alright, and what had happened, and about what I had seen. The view in the goggles, was as good as this night vision instrument gets, with some great assisted moonlight. Although there is some graininess with these Gen 2 goggles, the view was clear enough to see the details I have noted. The view was the typical green tube intensifier background. My on site estimate of the figure being 100 yds from me, turned out to be, not accurate at all, and an overestimate. This is due to the 40 deg view in the goggles, which gives somewhat of a tunnel vision, that can cause objects to be perceived as being further away, than they actually are. Here are the pair of goggles, I was using:

Shortly after the sighting, One of the investigators walked down to the spot where the moving figure first emerged, while I covered him with the NV. After doing some comparisons to him, in the same position… what I saw, was not any bulkier or wider (possibly less) than him, and not much taller (less than a foot). That evening, and the next day…we came up with no additional evidence that anything had passed through the sighting location. The leaf litter was heavy, and although we searched the area for signs of anything (hair, prints, breaks, skid marks on the forest floor)..we found nothing.
In addition to what I mention here, we heard the tapping knocks, some interesting howls or strange owl sounds from a distance, and a distinct (several second) growl sound, from the trail (near the creek) on our walk back to base. Here is a growl (# 3, and the first sound on the short Youtube spectrogram video), for comparison.. that sounded almost identical to what we heard. The following audio, was recorded by another investigator, on a solo outing.. several years before, in the same general area of the eastern Adirondacks:

The theory and speculation of this sighting:

The three of us had discussed this incident on site, both Saturday night, and the following day on the revisit. The exact route of the figure, was in question. We all saw where it probably came from, and the route it took, based on what I saw. It is on the question, whether this figure was responsible for the tapping knocks, that we all heard, earlier in the night OP session. It is also a theory, that the figure did a sharp turn, and headed back south into the deeper forest…possibly after hearing my outburst, from my location on the knoll. More theory could be, that the call blast (orangutan vocals) done by the investigators in the basecamp.. could have put it on the move. The timing was certainly right. Whether this call blast had a positive or negative reaction on the figure, would be impossible to even speculate. In my case, if this call blast did indeed put this figure on the move… it was certainly a positive thing.

Summary thoughts:

I refer to this sighting as a “figure”. This is what I saw, a dark figure. Nothing that I could see from this distance and brief sighting, could define this as a sasquatch. I did however, think about something I saw on a website report, that very much resembled the shape of this moving figure. This is what I was thinking about in the field, soon after the sighting, and it stuck in my mind:

Only the overall shape of the dark figure I saw, resembled the top sketch, in this BFRO report from 1990. I saw no face, arms, or even leg movements…which make me wonder, if the legs were in a depression, and out of my line of sight. The figure I saw was very thin, and when I compared it to my fellow OP investigator (from the same viewpoint)…was not any bulkier, and possibly less so.
In addition, the way the head sat on the body of the moving figure, resembled (very much), how the head sits on the body of the creature, from a sketch made by Whitehall, NY artist, Eric Miner (note the attached photo..with all credits to the artist mentioned). Also note, that I am only using this photo, to compare what is noted above, and the general posture of the figure, I saw. I did not see any face, or closer details, other than what I have described.
Any skeptical thoughts (including my own), that this could have been a man moving that fast... in that kind of terrian, out in the dark forest with no light, and making no laughable. Whether others chose to believe me, is totally up to them...and bothers me not, either way. Speaking of laughable.. I'm still snickering over the call blasts silencing the group of partying youths on the road, and hearing basecamp's radio transmission from the field. To silence the boom box, on a quiet night in the forest...was priceless .

This sighting offers no proof of anything to anyone, but confirms for me…that something is definitely out there, in this area. This was a team effort by all involved in the expedition, and the NESRA members that scouted this area, and have also had experiences (that did indeed, resemble my sighting) there, in the past.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yard Vermin..... bird feeding gone wrong

This is the first in a series of entries I'm planning to blog, about the more common yard pest vermin, that has plagued my yard and environment, and the people that think they are doing good things by feeding them , and attracting them. This is not so much to critique the people that feed them, but to better educate them.... and present the facts, so that they can maybe (hopefully) make better choices, so we can all enjoy a greater variety of the wildlife, that is constantly around us, while not allowing our property to be contaminated and damaged, by over populations of these pest species. People can possibly get sick and ill from this problem. Just because they haven't yet, doesn't mean it can't happen. For all we could have happened, already(?)
Let's talk about a species, the House Sparrow (or English Sparrow) that is an invasive species here in N. America, and has caused great problems, and devastated native song bird populations. Here in New York, it has greatly reduced the population and former range of our State bird, the Eastern Bluebird. These House Sparrows (or puttz's...called by many NYers) are cavity nesters (like the Bluebirds), but are much more aggressive by nature, and have 3-4 broods of young each season, to the Bluebirds 1, or 2 broods.
When I lived at my former residence on the western NY lake plains, near L. Ontario...the first several years I lived there, I saw no Bluebirds. I did my research and talked to some knowledgable folks, and joined the NY State Bluebird Society. I began building nest boxes, and placing them in pairs, on my property, and on State lands (where I had permission). I also took measures, to guard against the House Sparrows, by trapping them in the boxes, and in large cage traps, on my property.
Within 2 years...I'm pleased to say, that I had nesting Bluebirds, and these areas were no longer dominated by the non native (and unprotected) House Sparrows. There were farms nearby, so this was a constant battle. The invasive Sparrows, flourish on farms, due to the grain feed that supports them, and ample nesting opportunities. The farmer has no time, to deal with this problem...thus, the farm hopping spread of this species marched across the entire continent...from a few pairs that were released in NY City (brought over from England), around the turn of the century. If those well meaning folks...had only realized what they were really doing, and the consequences that would come of it !
To prove something to myself, I leg banded several of the trapped sparrows, and released least 10 miles away from my property. The same year, I spotted one of the individuals again, and eventually re-trapped it. This time, I destroyed it, and all of the other ones I trapped...which numbered in the thousands, over the years I lived there. While monitoring my nest boxes, I personally witnessed cases, where House Sparrows had pecked to death, the little bluebird fledglings, and sometimes, the parents...and had constructed their new nest (in the newly taken over box), right over the top of the dead bluebirds...and began to mate and lay eggs. This long as I have breath in my lungs, will never breed on any property where I live or reside on.
Let's look at the facts on what else can happen, when large flocks of this species are fed, and allowed to breed and flourish. First, ask yourself...what happens when over populations of humans or any species tales place...without the needed sanitary facilities or means to accommodate them ?
Here's what's happening in our yards, from a large pole feeder that is constantly supplied with cracked corn-millet cheaper spread feed:
There are large flocks of up to hundreds of these birds (I've counted over 400), that are in the trees, roofs, and sitting on the fences , gates, and walkways...that are a white wash of fecal matter. These flocks often go into our open garage, where I find the fecal droppings on the floor, and everywhere else...where I frequent, and where my little daughter plays and my family walks. I have to restrict my daughter from going to the area near the feeder (on the border of the yards), because of the constant mess and activity there. I tried to put out a kiddie wading pool for my daughter, last year. Changing the water daily, was not I saw these flocks of birds drinking and crapping, on and in the pool...constantly. This summer, I only set up a sprinkler for her to run through in the yard, and had to decide...that having a little pool for her, is not a good idea.
Ok, here are the facts on the diseases and problems that these birds are known to cause:

Makes me wonder on the recent bed bug outbreaks, this hot summer...around the country. So..who likes bed bugs?
Does anyone that reads this, and Now knows the facts...really want their family, a neighbors family or visitors, sitting around in this kind of outdoor environment, getting this fecal matter on their shoes, clothes and hands...and then coming into the house (it can enter, by many means...including your window fans and air conditioner) ?? How about the innocents (like my daughter) that just want to play out in the yard ? The problem is (again) the large flocks of these birds, that are always around, producing this filth. A bird feeder that has a moderate population of birds that visit, does not present this problem, and any fecal matter.... is localized, and easy cleaned up... on or around the feeder. This is much more than just my opinions or angry ramblings....these are indeed, the facts.
We all enjoy feeding birds, and watching the feeders. Yes, I do also....and I want my neighbors and relatives to continue to enjoy it, as well.
There are things that can be done, to help prevent this from happening, and still be able to enjoy the same feeder watching pleasure...without, the large unchecked flocks of vermin, disease ridden invasive birds, that Are polluting your yard, and your neighbors yards.
First, make a change on what you are offering at the feeder. The cheaper cracked corn, millet small seed feed the main problem. Instead of putting this in the large hanging feeders where people walk, close to the house, put this feed (if you really must) in a platform feeder...Well away from the houses , near the very back of the yard. Refill your hanging (close to house) feeders, with Safflower seed:

Thistle seed is great also, but more expensive.
You will get the same birds you enjoy seeing, but far less of the flocks of House Sparrows, and other pest birds (grackles, blackbirds, cowbirds) that you've been feeding with the millet seed.
I've learned from this info, also...and I am going to make adjustments. I have been putting out black oil sunflower seeds for years...but now realize that House Sparrows will eat them, readily...just as soon as the millet-cracked corn seed runs out, next door. Here's a little more info on what is best to put out, and what is not:

What people don't know, can hurt them, and others close ways we never considered before. I post this... as a solution to help my neighbors, my family, and for anyone else that chooses to read this blog. Thanks for reading, and for considering these facts, and the information that I've gathered.