I was invited to float part of Bayou DeView in Monroe county Arkansas to seek evidence of the elusive and endangered Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The leader of the expedition was Jim Carpenter, founder of Wild Birds Unlimited, and a long-time “hunter” of the bird.
Jim got a recording of an IBW in 2008 and he and 2 other members of our party have spotted them several times since but have not been able to get a good photograph. I quickly saw the difficulty once we got out on the water – the trees form a dense stand so that if a bird is flying at any distance you’ll see nothing more than flashes as it appears between the trees, and the IBW is pretty shy so you’re not likely to get very close.
At one point I caught a glimpse of a big black bird with a bit of white about 75 yards away on the side of a tree. I got the boat turned around and went back-and forth many times through the area where I made the sighting but never did see the bird again. It was most likely the rather common pileated woodpecker but I see how that tantalizing possibility drives people to spend a lot of time here.
This was my first time (except driving through) in the Arkansas delta, where everything seems to revolve around rice farming and duck hunting. Many of the wetlands in this area have water trails, where the route is marked and maintained and with regular access points. There are campgrounds and some areas even have platforms where you can camp above the water. It certainly looks much different than the mountains, but once out on the water and deep in the woods, you’re still engulfed by nature. I see the attraction.
It was a treat for me to see even the pileated woodpeckers, as I rarely get a very good look at them while hiking. I got a picture of part of one – my best picture to date, unfortunately. I have a tendency to keep moving but one of these days I’m going to spend more time just sitting in the woods to see many more birds etc. Other birds we saw/heard were Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers, Wood ducks, Canadian geese, Blue herons, Nuthatches, Titmouses (Titmice?), and even a Blue jay.