It doesn’t look like we are getting a new bridge any time soon, so I’ve tried to make our work around a little more practical. The two railroad ties were uneven and wobbly, so that has been fixed and the hand rail extended a few feet.
It’s all a little rustic, but it’s all mostly scrap materials so not hurts anyone’s wallet.
I’d like to add some more rails coming down from the playing fields as those slopes are rather slippery in wet or icy conditions.
Today, I had a visitor! An older lady knocked on my door and asked if she could look out the back of my house, over the canal. Her name was Pauline Schlesing, (nee Rinebold) and she was brought up in a little house on The Bow.
I took her out the back and she gazed over the area between my house (#28) and the VanStrydonk’s (#30) where her tiny cottage once stood.
Apparently, the house burned down and her father, Richard Rinehold, was killed in the fire on Aug 27 1977. He purchased the house in 1948.
I showed her the photos of the houses and she knew most of the owners by name.
Pauline told me several stories regarding lots of kids coming to play at her house, because The Oxbow was so much fun. Swimming and fishing was a big deal in the summer, and ice skating went on, as it does now, in the winter.
Behind our house, was a bean field and the kids were allowed to pick beans (yellow) for a penny a punnet. Pauline liked the fact we had cleaned up the Bow.
The Old pub and bar also had a small store, and the kids would go there to get their candy. Of course, the new owners will be delighted in this news.
I’m hoping she will return shortly, because she has a number of photos to share with me. Its days like this that make it such a pleasure to live here.
I thought this bird was a cormorant. Its a regular these days around The Oxbow, and its evaded any close up photos so far.
The best I’ve done are these, on my zoomed Iphone.
Then I spotted a photo on the BBC’s web page and realised I was probably wrong. The color of the plumage on the throat gave it away.
The tricoloured heron (Egretta tricolor), also known as the Louisiana heron, is a colorful medium-sized heron of the Americas with a liking for coastal swamps and marshes. In flight and at rest they hold their neck at a curve similar in shape to an ‘S’.
If it is a Tri Colored Heron, then perhaps its a little off course, as the Wikipedia web page doesn’t show its habitat being this far north.
I’ve been informed that herons spear their fish, but cormorants dive for theirs, and the two photographed above were diving and catching fish. A search in my Audubon bird book stated they are immature GREAT CORMORANTS, Phalacrocorax carbo, which accounts for their brown color, which will change to black in maturity. They winter here from NewFoundland and can be as far south as New Jersey.
On my morning walk today, as I passed the long wooden shed at the Erie Crescent end of Oxbow Road, I noticed a branch had fallen from a cottonwood tree. It was about a foot in diameter at the break, so was very heavy overall.
It was pretty windy yesterday, so I wasn’t too surprised to see a fallen Cottonwood branch. However, as I passed this tree I was astonished to see the next Cottonwood had been completely felled. It was this that broke off the branch from the other tree.
Those of you that frequent this trail will remember this tree hosted a Wisteria vine. It was spectacular when in flower. It also hosted numerous Bittersweet vines, some with six inch diameter trunks. These were holding up several very large branches that had broken off in previous storms. They were just hanging, waiting to fall on passers by. Thankfully, that never happened.
Last year the ECNA cut these vines to help reduce the overladen canopy of their growth and excess weight. But the inside of this tree was so badly rotted, it was too late to save it.
Cottonwoods of this size are at their end of life cycle and are extremely dangerous. This one didn’t fall across the trail, but the next one could, so be warned, not to venture under these weak trees in windy weather.
If you’d like to help us with a small donation (say just $5-10) please go to our GOFUNDME web page – here – We use this money to mainly pay for the mowing about 3 times a year.
I suppose when you live in an urban area like The Oxbow, you’re going to see some unusual things occasionally and today was no exception.
As we went for our morning walk with the dogs, we heard this huge commotion coming from the stream. About twenty ducks were kicking up one hell of a racket, quite an unusual sound for ducks.
Then, a little further on, a murder of crows were high in the island’s trees making another deafening din. I don’t know what had got into the wildlife today. Is it some sort of bird holiday, or are all the berries fermenting and they’re a little sozzled?
Just as we were coming out of the Bow by the old long shed, a big hawk flew towards us, and then straight past us, carrying a large grey squirrel. I think it was a red-tail hawk. The bird had just flown down and plucked the squirrel out of a tree.
My dogs were quite jealous, they’ve been trying to get one out of those trees for months.
I collected the new Oxbow Signs that were delivered to The Fairport Lift Bridge by the maintenance department of the Canal Corporation yesterday. It saved them mailing them to me or me having to drive to Albion to get them.
The signs are to be placed at either end of the Oxbow trail. Here, the first one is bolted to an existing post that was once used by the Transport Authority’s ‘No Trespassing’ notice.
As a reminder of what the trail used to look like, these drums were once part of the scenery along the trail. Things have certainly changed, thanks to the Eagle Scout project and the ECNA.
The mowers have been busy in Fairport this week. The Canal Corporation has just cleared the inboard slope of the canal embankment dam between Bushnell’s Basin and 31F in Fairport.
This slope is an important part of the dam as it is somewhere that can easily be breached, causing a flood. Scrub and saplings growing here can penetrate the Rip-rap (a name for the rocks) that protect the dam from wave action. Many animals, such as muskrats, mink and otters like this environment, and will burrow into the embankment if not stopped, so its important to be able to look for their presence to prevent the water ‘piping’ through and causing a flood.
Meanwhile, at The Oxbow Trail and Park, much work has been going on. Mr Kim, of #1 Oxbow Rd, has been busy removing dead trees and branches from the bed of the original canal that run along the east side of the trail. This canal was only four feet deep and about sixteen feet wide, just enough for two original canal boats to pass.
You can see this here –
Further along the trail, we’ve mowed the entire area with a Brush Hog. This has been done to keep down the Ragweed, Phragmites grasses, Bittersweet vines and Knotweed, all invasive species.
There was a fair amount of Swamp Milkweed, the only food source for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, but we’re told mowing actually does this plant good as its a perennial and will sprout fresh succulent growth which the caterpillars prefer this time of year.
The Oxbow mowing is the work of the Erie Canal Neighbors Association, funded entirely by the founders, and this year will cost some $600 for the season. We could do with a little help if you feel so inclined and you enjoy this beautiful shady trail. and we have a GoFundMe webpage at – https://www.gofundme.com/d2mfgs-ecna
$5 donations would be much appreciated to help us keep this trail well groomed.
We are helping the environment by maintaining our community shared patch of woodland and waterway. Whether it’s invasive cattails, honeysuckle, wineberries, swallowort, buckthorn, Russian olive, bittersweet, poison ivy, ragweed or honey locust. The Oxbow and surrounding area is an educational resource and can teach others how to control invasive species in other areas.
Whether it’s one honeysuckle bush or a stray knotweed plant, it’s a start. Once the Oxbow is clear for mowing, volunteers can gravitate further into the woods to help rid the area of plants that choke out what’s beneficial to our local wildlife. We want to protect plants that were here many thousands of years ago, not decades ago. “The Land Conservancy has hired Applied Ecological Services to remove harmful invasive plants like Norway maple, common buckthorn, tree-of-heaven, and phragmites for the first phase of the project. These invasive species are being replaced with beneficial natives like oak trees, ninebark shrubs and Canada anemone.” https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-progress-and-additional-funding-restore-gorge-niagara-falls?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
As I camp, hike and visit many state parks, I see first hand what’s happening to the meadows and woodlands all across the state and hope we can open a few eyes. The honeysuckle is such a “sweet” name and people can’t see how invasive it has become. Far more so than Russian olive, but that bush is a close second. The mowed grass is perfect for the turtles to perform their egg laying duties. The fences, house parts wires and other junk must have made it difficult for them in the past. The junk probably killed a number of adult turtles too.
By Eric Gavelis
Just a note to folks who think they can help themselves to plants, mushrooms and flowers down the Oxbow. You can’t ! Please do not pick the flowers!
And Kids – take note. We love you to come fishing here, but take your paper, bottles and fishing line home with you.
I was up early, did my daily workout, had a swim and decided that I’d take my dogs out a little earlier than usual. We always walk The Oxbow and this morning, I’m glad I did because the air was clear, cool and fresh and it made everything look wonderful!
Today, the Catalpa trees are in full bloom. Being a little breezy, I didn’t catch their scent unfortunately, but I’m sure that delight will be available numerous times over the next few days.
Catalpas are native plants with huge leaves that make a wonderful shade canopy in the summer. They grow one foot long bean pods and the seeds grow quite prolifically around the parent tree.
Nearby, the temperature being right, the carp are busy splashing around as they do their reproductive thing in the shallows. These are some really big fish so they make quite the racket while lovemaking.
The Canal Authority were busy on the other side of the canal, trimming the edge of the canal where the rip-rap is. This is the second pass their tractor has made in the past week, so I guess they’re really intent on keeping it manicured!
Last year, I collected a load of Milkweed pods with their puffy seeds, and in the spring, I dispersed them randomly around the Oxbow. They have just started to sprout and the crop is looking quite promising. I’m hoping we can encourage more to grow because they are the only diet for the Monarch butterfly caterpillar, and that beautiful creature is in peril.
We had a heavy rain last night, so the park is a little muddy here and there, mainly because of all the work the Canal Corporation’s tractors did removing all the deadwood our volunteers cleared.
I’ve planted several bags of wild flowers (Home Depot Specials) over these areas, so I’m hoping to see some wonderful results in the next few weeks. My own canal-side garden is awash in color from these packs, and there is such variety, there are flowers all summer long.