Friday, March 31, 2006
Took a trip down to LW on Sunday. I hiked the river trail all the way to the coffer dam at the headwaters of the Waccamaw River, around a 7 mile round trip. It was sort of a blustery day with temps hovering around 60's and the wind was rough coming in off the lake. The trees are starting to green out and make looking through them difficult. I saw some evidence of scaling and found one tree that had been decimated by woodpeckers. I took a few good pictures of this tree which I will post shortly. I used my Leatherman to peel some bark on the tree and found lots and lots of termites. So the tree is still loaded with food. I saw no woodpeckers, only a brown thrasher and assorted chickadees and titmice.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
First stop was the bridge where the fellow who made the report stopped and put in his canoe. Thing is, there are two creeks a mile or so apart. Here is the northernmost one.
I don't think this was the one in question, but it's not much smaller than the other creek. It's about 12 feet or so wide. And it sure didn't look navigable. The southern creek looked a little better. It's a little wider and it looked like it might go for a bit.
The fellow probably didn't go too far, so I'm going to return with my kayak and a pocket chainsaw for the treefalls. I'm going to give a good look for nesting cavities. I'll also play some calls and see what happens. I'm almost done remastering the 1930's Allen recording and I'll be burning it to cd soon.
This creek is the northern border of TNC's land. There is a remnant of their original sign here on the southern bank.
There is a parking area down the road at the trail head. While on the trail I saw many signs of woodpecker activity. The thing I didn't see was woodpeckers. Nor did I hear them. The entire forest was almost devoid of birds, save for a few chickadees and titmice. It was eerie in there with hardly any birds. The only sounds were from the chickadees. I also found a pine with a large nesting cavity. The cavity measured around 120mm in diameter. It was about 15 feet high in a tree with a dbh of 16 inches. The pine was devoid of bark. I would have a picture but my camera ran out of space. I'll get it next trip, since I now have a new digital camera with tons of space. I need to know how large IBWO nesting cavities are in relation to pileateds.
One thing that stands out here is the abundance of dead or dying trees. They are everywhere here. If they produce a food source, I can see woodpeckers having a field day here.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I didn't get hooked on chasing ivorybills by looking forlornly at their illustrations in the field guides and hoping to see one in the field while adding to my ‘life’ list. I became hooked on them when I learned how America's father of ornithology, Alexander Wilson, discovered his ivorybill. I'm sure everyone who ever had an interest in the Lord God Bird has heard or read the story about Wilson shooting one and bringing the little guy back to the room he was renting. The bird, though injured, was still severely ticked off at being shot and proceeded to chisel an escape hatch in the plaster wall. Wilson wrote that the bird had "a noble and unconquerable spirit." Well, that event transpired in Wilmington, North Carolina, my birthplace and home.
One of my loves in biology was the re-discovering of lost and presumably extinct species. I would research animals like the thylacine of Australia and panthers still in the Carolinas. BTW...Here's a wonderful book on the subject. I hope that when I do finish my degree, that I can devote my area of research to that pursuit. Anyhow, I did some research on the ivorybill and learned that the little guy has been AWOL since the 40's. Never one to let the voice of reason stop me, I decided that I would give it a shot of finding the bird. I also love challenges. :-) I suspect my overwhelming love for the outdoors and all things wild has something to do with it as well. I get recharged when I'm out in the woods and swamps, and what better excuse to traipse around in the bush than to look for an extinct woodpecker? Especially when you’re told that it’s ‘impossible’ to find one? I do have enough of an OCD personality and enough eccentricity to not let folks calling me a crackpot get in my way....
I do hope that the bird is still out there, even if not in the Carolinas. I was born in a time where all the great swamps and forests were already 'conquered'. I had to read about their depth and mystery in books. I'm not so much of a tree hugger to not know that the rise of America couldn't have happened without the logging and the expansion of the last century. But it's sad that so many species had to lose out for our successes. To find this bird, somewhere, anywhere would be the tiniest smidgen of hope that we haven't careened off the cliff of environmental doom and gloom. That we still might have a sliver of a chance to be the good stewards of the Earth that we are supposed to be.
Monday, March 13, 2006
This place is loaded with pileateds. I heard about 6 or 7 and saw 2. I also saw a red bellied woodpecker. I saw many trees with nesting cavities. I'll try and get back out there with a camera to get some pictures. I recently saw a picture of Dr. Martjan Lammertink with a big printout of pileated nest cavities compared to ivorybills. I really have to get one of those. I haven't ruled out this area as of yet. I still think one of the best bets is somewhere on the Black. I want to get out there again when I have my acoustic playback equipment in order.