Monday, April 24, 2006

White River National Wildlife Refuge




Sunday I was back at the White River NWR. On Saturday I had met Pam Hines who runs the visitor center in St. Charles. It's definitely worth the visit if you get over that way. They have some wonderful exhibits and good maps. I also met Pam's husband, Richard Hines, the refuge's biologist. They are both very nice folks. The visitor center is well worth a visit. I’m happy that our tax dollars are being spent on something worthwhile for a change. I headed to East Moon Lake. While there I found some good examples of tree scaling. I did bring my digital caliper and took measurements. The largest was 6.1mm. I found plenty in the 4mm range and some in the 5’s. The tree had been gone over pretty good, and the grooves were diminished a bit from all the other woodpeckers, but there were a few good grooves left to measure. The bark was still nice and tight, and when removed, I found millipedes underneath. I found another tree on the road from Alligator Lake to Prairie Lake. The grooves were all in the 4mm-5mm range. I most wanted to see what the scaling looked like to compare to what I have here. Now I know what IBWO scaling looks like.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dagmar WMA

Today I'm a tad farther afield than the Cape Fear River Basin. I'm writing this blog entry from Brinkley, Arkansas. Yep, IBWO Ground Zero. I was in northern Louisiana on business and had a free weekend, so I decided to come up this way and see what the habitat looks like. I do not expect to see IBWO's nor do I plan on searching for them. I just want to see trees, scaling and understory to compare to back home.

I also checked out a possible IBWO sighting in Caddo Parrish, La, before I left. This does look promising, but unless I had a canoe or kayak I would have been trespassing.

This afternoon I checked out Dagmar WMA. The forest is wonderful with many trees in the 24-30" dbh range and some even larger. Hardly any pines to be seen which is kinda weird for me. I'm used to it being the other way around. The first thing I noticed is that this habitat looks very similar to the pictures that Tanner took of the Singer Tract. The trees and understory look identical.

The 4 main trees in this picture are all around 24" dbh.


Here are some smaller trees showing the understory.

I didn't see any scaling in here, but I'll admit, I was really wanting to get down to the White River NWR. Word around the campfire is that this is where the action is. I was just figuring on popping on down there. Ummm....nope. Nuh-uh. This place is freekin' huge. I started in Brinkley which still isn't the northernmost part of this place. It took me well over an hour to reach the south end of the WRNWR. And I was bookin' it on the backroads at 70mph. Wow. I would have rather stayed down there, but there isn't anything down there except soybeans, tractors, and tiny towns with no amenities for the weary traveler. The only hotel with high speed internet is here in Brinkley. I hear that there in one over in St. Helena. Maybe if I get up this way again, I'll stay there.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bigfoot's New Pal

This was posted over at CyberThrush's blog...

The thought that you take these sightings seriously is ridiculous.
Which of course then means if your blog takes them seriously then yes your blog is ignorant too.
The IBWO was never stupid. It was a magnificent bird that is now extinct.



Oh...ok. You're just one of the ones who thinks I'm wasting my time out there in the bush looking for imaginary ghost birds perched on Bigfoot's shoulder while waiting to board a UFO. Ok...fair'nuff. I touched on that subject on my blog. I'm used to that. Thankfully, folks telling me that something can't be done hasn't stopped me before. Hope springs eternal, as they say. Here's a little secret. When folks tell me over and over that the IB has gone the way of archaeopteryx, it just makes me want to look harder. Thanks!

I am one of the ones who keeps her head down and keeps a low profile. Frankly, I don't give two flips what people think about me or anything else. I left that back in junior high, thank god. Also, it helps to be in a place where no one really looks. Although, I'm finding more and more folks who are looking here....And you guys know who you are :-) I try not to get caught up in all the retoric. I will not let that happen here. This is simply a journal of my hobby and my outings. I did want to post a reply to that post though since CT has limited his blog to comments only by team members since a recent post stirred up a major hornet's nest of troll posts.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bobby Harrison Talk

This past weekend I had the good fortune to see Bobby Harrison speak in Columbia, SC. Thanks go out to M from birdforum.net for the heads-up. You can imagine how excited this IB hunter was to get to see other like-minded folks in the same room. The lecture was preceded by Alex Sanders, a past SC legislator who is credited with saving the Congaree Swamp and starting the SC conservation movement, with a little help from our elusive feathered friend. I was absolutely riveted listening to his story. The hairs on my neck and arms stood on end when he spoke about what happened out there in the swamp on that fateful day in 1971. I recorded all the speakers and will post notes from BH and JC, but I will post a link to a streaming file of Mr. Sanders talk. If he or anyone involved wants me to take it down, just email me and let me know. Christen “AT” cscstudios “DOT” com is my email address in non-spambot format….

Anyhoo….If you don’t know the story I won’t ruin it for you. It’s better to listen to it. I apologize for the crappy sound. It was recorded on a teeny digital voice recorder with no external mic, whaddya expect? I did run it through Cool Edit to remove some of the background hiss.


Alex Sanders Talk

Also speaking was John Cely, a wildlife biologist from Columbia. He too was bitten by the IB bug long ago. He was bitten when he read about them in RTP’s field guide to the birds. RTP mentioned that they were to be looked for in SC. So….JC just figured he’d hop on down to the swamp and have a looksee at one. Well, obviously, it wasn’t quite that easy. He did give a very nice talk about the history of IB’s in SC. I’ll give a few details about his chat in another post. Long story short…..I did get to see the Luneau video up close(I was in the front row) and it was projected the size of a movie screen. Whatever that bird is, it’s not a pileated. And, the white on the wings is on the top, not the bottom…. You lose! Good day sir!(with apologies to Willy Wonka)

The piece de resistance, was of course the Harrison video. Apparently we were the 2nd group he had ever shown it to. Upon the first viewing you realize just how darn quick it is. You’re looking at trees, then….zip!!.....some flap-happy bird with really white wings goes flying by. Once you slow it down though, you realize that this isn’t a pileated either. It sure looks like an IB to me. And I saw it 8 times, in various speeds and zooms.

He also played quite a few double knocks and calls from the ARU’s.

I’ll summarize his lecture in another post.

The next day I went for a hike in the Congaree NP. Wow. This was swamp habitat I’m not used to. This was swamp in red-clay country. Not the blackwater lowland swamps I grew up near. And the trees were absolutely HUGE. I’ve never seen this many trees so large on the east coast. The place was loaded with prothonotary warblers, red-bellied woodpecker, pileateds, downys, and hairys. I can see this being a good place for IB’s.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Town Creek

I paddled Town Creek on Sunday. Town Creek empties the eastern part of the Green Swamp. No one has been up in here since the last hurricanes as I was blocked by a treefall about 2 miles in. This part of the swamp looks promising, but there is a lot of development around it. I saw lots of cavities, but hardly any fresh woodpecker workings.

I head this bird calling around sunset. Not sure what it was.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Double knock

Wed the 5th I was back on Cypress Creek. I'm slowly making my way down the creek toward the NE Cape Fear. No one has been on this creek since the last hurricane at least. Treefalls are every 100 yards or so. Some are quick and easy, some not so much. Yesterday I was working on a big sweet gum that was totally blocking the creek. It was day 2 of trying to cut this sucker away. Around 7pm I heard a distinct double knock coming from the direction from which we had already paddled. It was not answered. It sounded kind of like the sound you hear when a car goes across a expansion joint on a bridge....a "pop-pop" sort of noise. I was never expecting to see anything here on this creek and I was just out having a good time clearing a paddling creek close to home. I'm going to have my recording equipment with me next time.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cypress Creek

This Sat I decided to see what Cypress Creek was all about. This is the northern most range for the IB on the east coast, so I wasn't expecting to see much. And I didn't. This has all been logged many times over. I don't think anyone has been in here since the last set of hurricanes as there were trees down everywhere. I'm going to bring a saw next time and try and clear it out, as at least it's a good paddle close to home.

Cypress Creek Topo