Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mystery To Me


I have a little bit of a different post for all you dear readers today.  A bit of a Pabloesque mystery to help me solve.  Now, in my daydream world, if I were to decide not to be a counterfeiter, my next choice would be a detective or private investigator.  In fact, if it were not for the fact that you have to go all through police academy and actually work for a time on patrol, I might have seriously considered being a detective in real life.  I'm not much on reading most fiction, preferring technical or how-to books, but I love whodunits and any sort of unexplained phenomena.
So, here is my little mystery....Nothing earth-shattering for sure but a bit curious, to me anyway.  At the road end of my drive, near my mailbox, is one of the largest sycamore trees I have ever seen.  It towers well above the surrounding trees in the canopy and the circumference of it's trunk must be 10-12 feet.  A smaller red maple grows under it and both are a favorite of the local squirrels.  Chigger and I were out for our daily stroll to get the mail and as we approached the gate near the mailbox I noticed something seemed amiss.  Looking over underneath the giant sycamore I saw this:  (you may need to enlarge the photo to really see)


The bright green maple leaves from a newly broken limb caught my eye first.  We had not had any recent winds strong enough to blow that down and the leaves were quite crisp and fresh.  It had to have been very recent.  Patches of a blackish, powdery substances were splattered all about and blending into the gravel just a bit was the fresh body a young squirrel.  It looked as though he had fallen from a considerable height.


My first thought when I saw the blackish stuff was that some passing redneck had spit out his dip but as I looked around I realized it was a very, very large amount.  I seriously doubt that even the big-mouthed knuckle-draggers I know could hold that much Skoal.  Plus, there was no Skoal odor.  Perhaps some type of tree rust or mold?


Upon inspecting the small limb it appeared that the broken end had actually been gnawed.  The marking were very similar to the large teeth marks that beavers make when cutting trees.  It was like that but in miniature.  So, gnawed branch, flat squirrel, black junk.  My brain tumbled it all around for a few minutes while Chigger proceeded to sniff everything but she was careful not to disturb the evidence.
I returned to the house to get my camera and tell Jack about my discovery.  We concluded it had to be one of a couple of scenarios.  A. the little squirrel was being pursued by one of the local hawks and had broken a weak limb in it's scrambling to get away, falling to it's doom anyway.  But that didn't really explain why the end looked chewed or gnawed....And wouldn't a hawk have returned for it's prize?  Surely it would have seen the little squirrel laying there.  B. the little squirrel, lacking worldly wisdom, was simply on the wrong side of the limb it was chewing and essentially sawed itself into freefall.  But why would a squirrel gnaw on a tree limb?  Nuts I can see... and what about the black stuff?  I looked all around the large sycamore for any other sign of this black grunge but could not find any.  No other old decaying limbs anywhere that it might could have fallen out of.  After collecting my photos and evidence, and not wanting to see the hapless squirrel become anymore "messy" shall we say, I conveyed it's small body to a peaceful area of the forest to let nature finish it's process.
So, what do you think?  What was that black stuff and why was it splattered everywhere?

Double brownie points to any who can also tell me, off the top of your head, the band that the post title refers to.  One hint; this title is an album and not a specific song.

14 comments:

ErinFromIowa said...

Wow. This is really weird! Annie, you like to keep us on our toes. So far I have sent everything to the lab. All paid for with my imaginary millions. Ha!

Anonymous said...

My guess is 1. Was the black stuff decomposed tree (rotten )', or rotten leaf matter?, 2. If a hawk or owl went after a sq. and knocked Or dropped said sq. out of tree and hit the tree itself by accident and was feeling like this was a big mistake so going to recover and leaving said sq. and unidentified matter on ground with unseated sq. 3. Leaves only a guess that the chewed limb was the beginning of sq's nest and was knocked out of tree by an unknown raptor who changed its mind and leaving us to ponder a mystery.

Sal said...

Do you have porcupines in your area? i don't know if the three are related or coincidence but the chewed branch is very porky-looking...

HermitJim said...

Now THAT is really strange! I have no idea what it is!

Cool mystery, for sure.

edifice rex said...

Hey Erin! Haha! well, I thought that story would be a different change of pace!

Hey Anon! The black stuff basically looked like coffee grounds; so I guess it could have been a number of things. There was also one other small limb not far from this one, so yeah, you may be right. Perhaps the sq. was building a new nest and got whacked. didn't check the body for claw punctures and there was no blood visible but it could have been....

Hey Sal! As far as I know we do not have porcupines here.

Hey Jim! yeah, don't think I've ever encountered something like this before.

Ed said...

Roy Orbison is my guess on the post title.

As for the mystery of the post, I can't believe you didn't see the obvious. The squirrel was obviously a knuckle dragging squirrel and had a hug dip of tobacco in his cheeks. As you know, squirrels can have much larger dips than humans can. The thought of oral cancer and not being able to eat nuts was just too much so it gnawed off a branch to stab himself to death and then decided it was just easier to jump. When it hit, the force of impact expelled all the air and chew out onto the ground.

Allen Thrasher said...

Sumac berries. ~~~and yes~~even though it's One in the Morning here I went out and tasted them~~~If he had his cheeks full of that stuff I'm not at all surprised that he chewed a limb in two and fell to his untimely demise rather than continue to taste it.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! Ha!! now that's a great theory! you may be right about that. This is Alabama after all. lol!
Nope, it's Fleetwood Mac way before Stevie Nicks!

Hey Allen! Ha! Only you would go out at 1:00 am. and eat sumac berries. But no, it was a bit more fine that those. Looks more like he was making a pot of coffee when he got whacked by a hawk which spilled the coffee grounds everywhere. That, or you came down here and threw out coffee grounds over the whole thing just to confuse me.

JO said...

OK this little guy bit off more than he could chew. He more than likely was on the wrong end of that branch he gnawed on like you thought, as for the black gunk it may have been something forced out of either his stomach or cheeks on impact. At any rate poor little devil did himself in.

Pablo said...

The black gunk may be unrelated to the gnawed branch and the dead critter. I'm guessing it's some decaying plant matter, perhaps walnut husks? I agree with the others that the squirrel was probably gathering the branch for a nest and fell or was knocked out of the tree. Too bad in any case.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jo! I'm leaning towards the idea he bit off the branch he was on also. There was a LOT of that black stuff, so I don't know that it could have come from inside him, but who knows?

Hey Pablo! You may be right about the black gunk; it may be totally unrelated. It just seemed to be somehow involved since it was all there together and it looked very fresh also, like the other things. Yeah, poor little critter; I always hate to see something like that. It's just nature but it's sad.

Anonymous said...

Well, squirrels gnaw limbs for nest and yes they are building right now for winter. Not sure but I think they have their babies in winter. could be wrong on that account. Squirrels also fall and died from injuries. I've seen a baby raccoon fall from high in an oak and it was awful. Mama came racing down the tree and picked up the baby, but it was crying in pain. So they have accidents like humans.
Not sure about the scat. Someone else marching through.

edifice rex said...

Hey Tammy! Yeah, I figure this one was in the process of building a nest but it seemed a bit young to have babies of it's own. Even still, it would need a warm place for the winter itself. The black stuff was definitely not scat, or else that critter have some SERIOUS digestive problems! lol! The squirrel may have been digging around in the crotch of a tree for it's nest and threw some stuff out or something.

Anonymous said...

Well if a human had been roosting in the tree, I would say he was a GI Bleeder. End stage alcoholics get esophageal varices and vomit old blood, that looks like coffee grounds. A smell you will never forget. So long as the squirrel isn't in someone's corn mash. Haha!!
Could be something out of the crotch of the tree. Love life's mysteries. tammy