I had decided that I wasn't going to tell anyone about what I had seen the other night at Dorsey's Knob. After all, I don't want people thinking that I'm crazy. But now that I actually possess video proof of what I saw, I think that its okay to share my story with the world.
To put it bluntly, the other night I saw a white formless "entity" moving around the disc golf course near basket #2. As soon as I saw it, I threw the BOPARC truck into 4 wheel drive and quickly repositioned it so that the headlights aimed in the direction of the movement. Thanks to modern technology, I actually captured 30 seconds of grainy video on my cell phone camera.
Take a look at the video for yourself. If this isn't a ghost, then I don't know what it is. I just hope that sharing the story of this haunting doesn't raise any sort of stink.
I recently witnessed one of the most well-executed examples of mockery to ever greet my ears. It happened one evening as I sat reading on the deck of my residence at the Groscup Center. It was a very pleasant evening with several groups of people playing disc golf on the nearby course. I could also vaguely hear another group of park visitors talking as they stood atop Sky Rock.
I'm not entirely sure when the "incident" started, but I first became aware of it when I heard what I took to be a Killdeer calling. As you may know, Killdeer are a species of grasslands "shorebird" that are often seen on golf courses, beaches and in the parking lots of shopping centers. I had heard Killdeer flying above Dorsey's Knob Park before, but this one seemed to be calling from the top of a tree. Wait! Although a Killdeer is a bird, they do not land in trees. Or at least I've never before seen one in a tree.
Suddenly, the Killdeer stopped calling and a Northern Cardinal began singing from the same direction. Then after but a few seconds, the cardinal stopped singing only to be replaced by a snippet of song from a White-eyed Vireo. At this point, it became evident that we had a Northern Mockingbird singing from a treetop. It took but a moment to locate the mimic perched in the highest branch of a Black Cherry tree.
Mockingbirds are members of the Mimidae family, which also includes catbirds and thrashers. All of them are noted for their ability to mock the songs of other birds. By far, mockingbirds are the champion mimics within this bird family. I have even heard them mimic car alarms!
Most likely, male Northern Mockingbirds mimic the songs of other birds as a way of "showing off" to the females. It takes time and experience to learn a lot of songs. Ostensibly, only those individuals with good genes survive long enough to accumulate a long "playlist" of songs.
As I listened to this mockingbird sing one song after another, it became obvious that he had been around for awhile. And when I heard him imitate a Belted Kingfisher, I realized that this bird had previously lived at some other place. I knew this because there simply are no kingfishers high on the hill at Dorsey's Knob Park.
Hands down, this mockingbird could mock more species of birds than any other mocker I had previously heard. I couldn't identify every species mimicked, but what follows is a list of the songs that I did hear.
And yes...a car alarm, which is sometimes heard in the Dorsey's Knob parking lot.
Much thanks goes to Ben Taylor from Boy Scout Troop 65 for selecting Dorsey's Knob Park as the site for his Eagle Scout project. Over the weekend of July 12th-13th, Ben managed a work crew of over thirty fellow scouts, friends and family members as they improved and repaired the park's popular Sky Rock Trail.
The most physically challenging part of the project involved constructing a new 100' long section of trail that creates a loop around Sky Rock. Installing the new section required a lot of digging, chopping through roots, pulverizing rock, wheeling heavy loads of gravel to the top of the knob and setting 15 wooden steps. High humidity and sweltering 88 degree temperatures made for challenging work conditions. Despite the difficulties, the work progressed smoothly and more rapidly than anyone had envisioned. Its amazing what can be accomplished with a small army of workers! By the end of the fist day, the new section of trail was basically complete.
The construction phase of the project also called for accomplishing several smaller, yet important, tasks. One of these jobs involved repairing and replacing some of the existing wooden steps located behind Sky Rock. In addition, the work crew spread gravel on the trail, trimmed low hanging tree branches and removed poison ivy vines, which had slowly been creeping on to the trail and up the side of Sky Rock.
Although much was accomplished over the course of the weekend, this was just part one of Ben's Eagle Scout project. The second exciting phase will take place later this summer with the installation of an interpretive sign near the summit of Sky Rock. Stay tuned to this blog for more on Ben's project at Dorsey's Knob Park.
Field Notes from Dorsey's Knob
Thoughts and observations on the natural history and current happenings at Dorsey's Knob Park.
About the Author
John Boback is a naturalist, historian, environmental educator and caretaker at Dorsey's Knob Park. He can often be seen around the park staring intently into the trees through binoculars or crouched down trying to photograph a wildflower or an interesting insect. If you see him, take a moment to say hello.