"...the ornithologists still had serious doubts. Sutton finally put it directly: 'Mr. Spencer, you're sure the bird you're telling us about isn't the big pileated woodpecker?'

"Spencer exploded. 'Man alive! These birds I'm tellin' you all about is kints!' he shouted in their faces. 'Why, the pileated woodpecker's just a little bird about as big as that.' He held his fingers a few inches apart. 'A kint's as big as that!' he said, holding his arms wide... 'Why, man, I've known kints all my life. My pappy showed 'em to me when I was just a kid. I see 'em every fall when I go deer huntin' down aroun' my place on the Tinsaw. They're big birds, I tell you, big and black and white; and they fly through the woods like pintail ducks!'

"After Spencer's outburst, the members of the team were all believers -- not just because of his vehemence, but because his description was so accurate. Ivory-bills do not have the typical bounding flight of the pileated woodpecker. They generally fly away high and straight, with stiff flight feathers, looking very much like a pintail, and their call is a distinctive nasal kent, kent, kent -- very similar to the local name Spencer used, kint. Sutton and the others couldn't wait to get to the bayou and start searching.

"As it turned out, that was not an easy proposition..." --Gallagher, Tim. The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, pp. 10-11: "Of People and Peckerwoods."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Season of the IBWO

On 23 September, the first day of autumn, a cool front passed through South Mississippi, just a few days after our foray into Black Creek Wilderness.  Temperatures dropped into the low to mid-60's (Fahrenheit) at night, while daytime highs were in the 80's:  cool and pleasant, by Southern standards.  The past couple of days have seen the temperatures inching higher; but the word has been given.

Barring unforseen events, acts of God, etc., I will return to Black Creek Wilderness this Tuesday, 30 September, for a close survey of the western edge, around Beaverdam Creek.  Hopefully it will not be too hot.  I have already packed my rain poncho.

Early autumn is not the prime season of year for a search for ivorybills, but I am still largely in the scouting stage.  Other, much more seasoned searchers will be returning to the Southern swamp forests later, I imagine, when ivorybills are more vocal; and long after leaf-fall, when visibility is better.  Among them -- and I do not know who all will be in the field this season -- I look forward to reports from the Project Coyote team the most, who have been working methodically in Louisiana for years now.  I have learned much from their example, particularly with regard to feeding sign, which has been invaluable to me in my own nascent methods.  I hope the coming season is successful beyond their expectations.

My own efforts in the coming months may be a bit more sparse, as balancing work and family during the holiday season impact my time afield.  (For the record, the time and expense I take to conduct my search for the Ivorybill -- including, I should add, that of my companions Brian Carlisle and Richard Ezell -- are solely our responsibility, being an independent search group.  My job requires me to work 48-50 hours per week, and both Richard and Brian work in the offshore oil industry for two weeks at a time.)  During October and November -- if Black Creek Wilderness does not compel me to return -- I plan to begin forays farther down the Pascagoula River Swamp:  specifically, in the wide area between Sandy Wash Bend and Bull Bay Bend, as well as farther down, in Black Swamp.  I have been able to ascertain a walkable route directly into the heart of the Swamp -- walkable, that is, until the winter rains begin to make their impact, and the sloughs and basins fill with dark water.  I am still saving for a kayak, and hope to be able to purchase one come December, when travel in the swamp forest will be all but impossible in many areas without one.

Recently, thanks to Project Coyote, I read Cornell's "Final Report" from their 2006-2007 Ivory-billed Woodpecker Surveys and Equipment Loan Program.  (I have added the link to the list on the right of this page.)  Among the wealth of information within its pages, there is this -- their description of the Pascagoula River Swamp, and its potential as IBWO habitat:

In the southern portion of the Pascagoula WMA, in the fork between Big Black Creek and the Pascagoula River, a roughly 2,400 ha tract of old bottomland hardwood forest is located that is locally known as Big Swamp.  The last cut in the tract was a light and selective cut in the late 1950's.  Today numerous big oaks and sweetgums dominate the forest.  The Pascagoula was at the periphery of the pathway of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was moderately damaged by the hurricane.  Large trees were toppled or snapped in a patchy pattern.  Areas of tall blackberry briars occur frequently in the area, making explorations on foot during daytime somewhat difficult and return hikes after dark arduous.  Fourteen km north of the Big Swamp, between Bull Bay Bend and Sandy Wash Bend, hardwood forests are less mature, but still include many sizable trees; pines are frequent in higher areas with sandy soils.  Many pines were killed or damaged by the hurricane and are extensively being scaled by Pileated and Hairy woodpeckers.  The area between Bull Bay Bend and the Big Swamp is probably also good habitat, but has not yet been explored except for a scouting float on Black Creek.  Ward Bayou WMA in the south of the Pascagoula basin is mostly younger and lower forest.  The central Pascagoula basin is excellent habitat and ranks second only to Congaree National Park as an area of high quality hardwood habitat for IBWOs.  [p.26.] (Emphasis mine.)

I have been studying my maps of this area for some time, informed by the day trips I took this past summer to Red Swamp with Richard Ezell, and to Goff Basin with Brian Carlisle.  The Cornell article has helped me make up my mind to put in some time there this fall.

It is raining outside as I type this, and actually looks a bit wintry.  The summer birds are already leaving.  The kingbirds are gone, and the ruby-throated hummingbirds are staying only a few days before moving on.  Brian emailed me a photo he took out on his oil rig on the Gulf of Mexico:

  Prothonotary warbler.  (Photo:  Brian Carlisle)

The woods may be quieter when I walk them again.  They will definitely be much quieter over the next six months or so; but maybe there will be other things I will hear, that I have not heard before.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Expedition: The Slope Forest: Black Creek Wilderness, 18 September 2014

IBWOH's:  Brian Carlisle, Christopher Carlisle

Summary:  A planned two-day camping trip in the 5,000+ acre Black Creek Wilderness was shortened to a day hike due to extenuating circumstances in our households.  Black Creek Trail is about 40 miles long, extending throughout the southern section of the DeSoto National Forest, but its length within the Wilderness, which lies within the greater National Forest, is about ten miles.  In the end, it felt like 40.

Black Creek Wilderness, established in 1984, can be perhaps divided into three parts, the largest being pine plantation in the southern two-thirds.  Along the east-northeast boundary, and following the line of Black Creek, is Red Hills area, where the pine plantation drops down to the creek in a series of high, steep (sometimes almost sheer) wooded bluffs.  This slope forest includes extensive stands of mixed pine, beech, silver maple, sweetbay, and bigleaf magnolia, among other species; and I was reminded of a similar forest type, in the wooded ridges leading down into the swamp of the much smaller Leaf Wilderness farther east.  Along the north and north-western boundary of the Wilderness grows a somewhat more extensive mixed forest, with fully mature American magnolia (many very tall), sweet gum, and white oak in great numbers, along with tulip poplar, river birch, water oak, and the others mentioned.  Dogwood and American holly are common understory species throughout the hardwood forest.  Beaverdam Creek, a very large and strong stream, flows north into Black Creek, and the latter forest type extends south from Black Creek to envelop it.  At least one wooded oxbow (which we were too tired to explore), along with some fairly extensive swamp forest, lies near Beaverdam Creek.  Black Creek Wilderness trail winds some 10 miles through all three habitat types.

There has been, as far as I could tell, no fire activity of substance in the Wilderness for many years.  As a result, the pine forest is mostly shortleaf/loblolly, as longleaf requires periodic fire for propagation and general forest health.  (There may be stands of longleaf farther south in the Wilderness, more distant from the trail.)  However, the impact of Hurricane Katrina, in August 2005, can still be seen in the form of enormous pine boles lying across the trail in many places.  They have lain there so long that the bark has long since sloughed off, leaving them slick and green with moss.  The trail itself is in many places difficult to navigate, especially in the remote north of the Wilderness, making the going treacherous.  I was able to pick the path out at times, but it was more often than not my brother Brian who led the way, spotting the green-stained white diamond markers when the trail was little more than an opening on the forest floor.*

The birds were quiet.  Hooded warblers, Eastern phoebes, cardinals, summer tanagers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, Carolina chickadees, and tufted titmice comprised most of the species we encountered.  We surprised a flock of wild turkeys on the trail, and heard others clucking out in the forest farther on.  Pileateds laughed at us on and off all day long, and I believe I heard a red-bellied woodpecker once; but we never saw any of them, and we did not see or hear any other species of woodpeckers.  Nest cavities were mostly restricted to pines, and were not particularly common.  Totem trees (dead trees conspicuously pulverized by woodpeckers) were easily found, especially in the mixed forest near the creeks.

Staging our trucks at either end of the trail, we began our hike shortly after 7 a.m., and did not finish until after 5 p.m.  Well before Beaverdam Creek, I began to feel the effects of heat exhaustion, as the temperatures were in the low 90's, along with high humidity, no wind, and no relief from the sun among the pines.  This slowed our progress considerably, as I knew the only remedy was to stop and allow my body to cool itself.  Some relief came with an overcast sky around noon, keeping temps from rising any farther, and I began to feel better, save for the intolerable pull of my daypack on my shoulders.  But as I found new strength, Brian -- who seldom ever complains on the trail -- began to admit to fatigue.  We plunged ahead, bagging our cameras, weary of the straps dragging on our necks.  Luckily, we were largely untroubled by biting insects.  Near the trail's end, it follows Highway 29 north for about a mile; and there we were caught in a heavy downpour.  Brian had his rain poncho, but mine was in my overnight bag back at home; so while he was drenched, I was doubly so.  Luckily, a Forest Service truck came by, and a kindly older employee ferried us through the storm back to Brian's truck.

My drive home was over an hour long.  I was a little chilly, sitting there in my wet clothes, so I kept the heat on in my truck for much of the drive.  When I got home and got out, I was immediately chilled, and was shivering uncontrollably by the time I made it inside our house.  I quickly got into a hot bath, but was still cold afterwards; and as I write this, a day later, I am still running a low grade fever.  Apparently, one can get hypothermia in the summer, even in Mississippi.

Beautyberry, abundant in the Wilderness. 

Modest scaling to a living shortleaf or loblolly pine. 

Bigleaf magnolia Magnolia macrophyllu (center) and sweet gum (top) 

Southern black racer Colubor constrictor priapus, the only reptile we encountered. 

 Cavities in a living pine.  I suspect Pileateds, though the gently upward angle of the lowest and largest cavity is odd.

Sandbar on Black Creek, near the Red Hills. 

A nice gravel bar. 

The current was strong there.

Conclusions:  I have never been in a forest with more types of trees than that found in Black Creek Wilderness.  I found no scaling or cavities that could be considered diagnostic of Ivory-bill feeding or nesting activity, but the maturity and variety of the forest, along with its remoteness (we had no bars on our cell phones for most of the day), lead me to believe the Wilderness could support at least one pair of Ivory-bills.  However, while both the Red Hills and the Beaverdam Creek areas are worthy of close study, I only plan on returning to the Beaverdam Creek area, there to investigate the hidden oxbow; but I will not return until cooler temperatures in the fall.  The Southern summer has, in its last days of 2014, finally gotten the better of me.

*It should be noted for prospective visitors to this section of Black Creek Trail that, near Beaverdam Creek, we encountered a team of Hispanic men, workers clearing the trail of downed timber and overhanging growth.  These men were armed only with axes and machetes, and a wheelbarrow full of ice and bottled water.  The rest of the trail, to Highway 29, was clear and easy to navigate, thank goodness.  I suspect they will have the trail completely clear of debris in time for fall turkey season.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Encounter on Black Creek, 1978

     "In 1978, ornithologists Ronald Sauey and Charles Luthin* visited southeast Mississippi to float Black Creek, a meandering blackwater stream that flows through DeSoto National Forest, eventually joining the Pascagoula River in extensive swamp forest.  On the second day of their float they heard what Sauey later wrote 'sounded every bit like the historic Ivory-bill recording of Allen and Kellogg.' The following is from Sauey's letter of February 2, 1978, to me:

     'On our second day of boating on the creek (floating without motor to be as quiet as possible) we found an amazing congregation of mixed species -- Brewer's [blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus], Rusty [blackbird, Euphagus carolinus], Redwings [red-winged blackbird], Orange-crowneds [warbler, Vermivora celata], Yellow-rumpeds [warbler, Dendroica coronata], etc., etc., etc., and dozens of woodpeckers.  We were probably moored... for about an hour when a couple of Pileateds flew in... and started up a ruckus.  Shortly after, we heard a very loud series of tappings from farther down the river and then a number of distinct musical calls, given repeatedly on the same pitch and reminding us both of a nuthatch [Sitta sp.], only louder and not as nasal.  The calls stopped, and then were repeated again, only closer this time to us.  The call sounded even less like a nuthatch the second time, being fuller and more resonant, and we both looked at each other in disbelief -- was it an Ivory-bill?... we never saw the creature making the call.'

     "Sauey's report, combined with reports of others, the vastness of the Pascagoula Swamp, and the history of ivory-billed woodpecker specimens collected in the area in the late 1800s all suggest that the swamp forests of southeast Mississippi hold promise for ivory-bills."

-- Jackson, Jerome A.  In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Washington:  Smithsonian Books, 2004):  178-179.

*Late co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, and executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, repectively (my note).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Love Those Blue Jays. Not.

By now most Ivorybill searchers and enthusiasts are aware of the impressive ability of the Blue Jay to make all kinds of interesting audible reasons for giving one wide-eyed pause while in the field.  On my latest foray into the Pascagoula River Swamp, I captured some rather uncanny "tootling" noises they were making high in some hardwoods, which had me standing like a stone pillar for a few minutes before I saw them gliding through the treetops and bobbing at one another from upper branches.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Excursion: The Feathered Way: Tallahala WMA, 11 September 2014

IBWO's:  Brian Carlisle, Christopher Carlisle.

SUMMARY:  Bienville National Forest, in central Mississippi, rivals in size its mighty sibling the DeSoto further to the south.  I have not had much experience with Bienville, aside from passing through it from time to time:  it is rather remote, lying more or less between Jackson and Meridian, mostly to the south of Interstate 20.  (Ain't much up that way.)  However, I have grown curious of late about the southeastern corner of Bienville, where lies the Tallahala Wildlife Management Area.  There the Tallahala and other creeks flow southward, eventually joining the Leaf River.  Tallahala Creek is, from what I have been able to survey from various bridges in the area, a typically rugged Southern waterway, often flooding its banks during the cooler months, and catching my attention with views of tall sycamores, cypress, spruce pine, and hardwoods.  I have often imagined Ivorybills using the myriad creeks and rivers of the South as highways connecting larger tracts of suitable habitat.  The problem in investigating the viability of this scenario is usually one of access.  Many of this area's waterways, such as the Chickasawhay, are almost completely hemmed in by private land, making access to the riparian habitat all but impossible.  I was drawn to the Tallahala WMA section of Bienville because it is on public land; further, a quick survey of Google Earth showed it to be almost completely forested, with little or no human activity such as farming or timber harvesting within its bounds.  There are to my knowledge no records of Ivorybills in the Bienville, though it falls within the species' greater historical range.  Nevertheless, I felt it important to investigate for the reasons outlined above.

Brian and I got, for us, a late start (7:30).  Travelling north on Mississippi Highway 15, we drove first to Bay Springs, then to the progressively smaller enclaves of Louin and Montrose before turning west into Bienville.  Immediately we encountered a vast pine plantation, much of which was very young, interspersed by small creeks shrouded occasionally by groves of hardwoods.  Further into Bienville, in the Tallahala WMA itself, rose impressive stands of shortleaf/loblolly pine, dominating the landscape there much as its graceful cousin, the longleaf, does in the DeSoto.  I was disheartened by the monoculture, but we drove on, until we found a forest road barred to vehicle traffic that led southward, between two creeks.

It was already hot and humid when we began, but the going was easy.  There are no banana spiders in that area of Bienville.  I almost missed them.  The forest understory there is, I pleasantly found, dominated by white oaks, their pale boles contrasting nicely with the darker trunks of the pines.  Some of the latter bore sign of long-ago fire.  Good numbers of post oak and water oak grow there, too, along with hickory, sweet gum, and dogwood.  Some water oaks were of sufficient girth to catch our attention, but most (if not all) of the hardwoods were less than fifty years old, most of them much younger.

We saw almost no wildlife, save wild turkeys.  We saw two on the trail itself, and two on the highway leading into the WMA.  We came across their tracks and several of their distinctive feathers on the trail, and many other feathers besides, including several from what must have been a hawk, or possibly an owl.  An eastern wood pewee was the only other bird we took note of, and the rest of the birds were quiet, save for the far-off laughter of pileateds.  Due to the prevalence of white oak, which produces large acorns, the area must fairly abound with game animals.

We finally turned around when it became apparent that the road led to nowhere in particular, and the heat was beginning to get to be a bit much.  The hike there and back to the truck was probably around 4-5 miles.  We drove back to Laurel, and had roast beef sandwiches at Jitters Coffee House, courtesy of the lovely barista with red hair and green eyes.

Typcial scene in our area of the Tallahala WMA. 

Brian spotted this, probably Pileated work, in a grove of small dead oaks.   

 White oak (Quercus alba), just right of center.  One of my favorite trees.

Brian spotted these two cavities high up in a living white oak.  Possibly pileated work, though they seemed a smidge too small. 

One of several turkey feathers we found on the road. 

A sure sign that the Southern autumn is near:  goldenrod in flower.

Great hunter, yes?  Yes. 

For my vanity staff.

CONCLUSIONS:  Having found no sign there even remotely suggestive of Ivorybills, I have satisfied my curiousity about the Tallahala WMA, and about Bienville National Forest.  I do not believe the habitat there currently supports Ivorybills, though it may become better suited to do so if allowed to mature in the decades to come.  I will turn my attention back southward, to the Pascagoula River and its more immediate tributaries.

Next week:  Black Creek Wilderness.  Forecast:  Rain.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Close Survey: Where the Whang-Doodle Mourneth for His First-Born: The Lands East of Hutson Lake, 3 September 2014

IBWOH:  Christopher Carlisle.

Summary:  Hoping for a drier, less aquatic experience, I hiked the extensive logging roads to the east of Hutson Lake, in the Pascagoula WMA.  The hike took me on a nearly constant southward trajectory, ending at the lake with the giant hollow cypress, who I have named Hollow Man; beyond lies another small muddy lake, which I was unwilling to hike to.  The dawn came late, with clouds from the night's rains lingering until after 7 a.m.   Still, though it was humid, the hike was pleasant enough.  I moved slowly, stopping every 15-20 yards or so to listen, and carefully scanning the trees for cavities and signs of scaling.  This is my method, the Close Survey, similar to the method I used to employ in my squirrel hunts, and which also seems to have been (with some variation) the method of ivorybill searchers in the past.  

A dominant tree species in this area is the water oak, which I do not believe is generally favored by the Ivorybill; but equally abundant are large sweet gums, which I do believe are a favored species.  Swamp chestnut oak is common here, as is red oak, with white oak slightly less so; there are occasional groves of laurel oak and willow oak, and there are at least two old live oaks easily spotted from the trail, one with some scaling evident on a high bough.  Spruce pine is common, with no other species of pine evident.  Strangely, I found no magnolia or sweetbay.  I also encountered no tulip poplar.  Baldcypress is, of course, present in great numbers, along with water tupelo.  Beech (some impressive specimens) and river birch lurk in odd corners near lakes and sloughs.

Pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers were up early, but I did not hear the redheads until somehwhat later. I spied many birds, including yellow-billed cuckoos, a Kentucky warbler, Carolina wrens, and summer tanagers; but they did not seem as active as they used.  Autumn approaches.

 Slough, not far from the trailhead.  It is probably the same winding slough that defeated Richard and I, and claimed my old cell phone.

 Scaling near the trail.

 I revisited the scaling Brian and I had discovered before.

 Golden silk orb-weaver Nephila clavipes, or banana spider.

 Exposed scaling on sweet gum at trailside.  I could find no evidence of another tree having fallen and sloughing the bark off.

 Swamp chestnut oak, showing possible sign of blight.

 Many swamp chestnut oaks in the area were similarly affected.

 Lower bole scaling of this type seems to occur mainly on sweet gum.  On spruce pine, the scaling seldom goes all the way around the tree.

 Note the "clipped" look of the vines.  This leads me to suspect it to be the work of a beaver despite the distance (200-300 yards) from any water source.

Scaling to a young white oak.

Rootings of hog.

Fresh wallow of hog.

South end of north-bound hog. 

Scaling to live oak bough.  Unfortunately, the low light of early morning prevented me from getting a better picture. 

 Cardinal flower.  One of my favorites. 

 Old scaling, 20-30 feet up a sweet gum.

 Romalea guttata, or Eastern lubber grasshopper.  Black adult color phase.  Very common in this area.

 My momma calls 'em "Devil horses."

 Nice cavity in a live water oak.

 A female Prothonotary Warbler, checking me out.

 More scaling.  I could not identify the tree species.

 Hollow Man (left).  I did not disturb his repose this day.

 Furthest extent of the day's hike for me.  I would not wade this slough for a better look at the lake beyond.

 Hog butt imprint.

About halfway back on the return hike, I began to hear the high, forlorn yowls of some lonely creature from the direction of the River, and which followed me for some two hundred yards through the bottomland.  It may have been a bobcat, or a coyote, or a fox; but I thought of my old Professor of Mississippi History at the University of Southern Mississippi, the redoubtable John Edmond Gonzales, the biographer of Senator Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar.  One day, during our survey of the history of the Great State of Mississippi, Doctor Gonzales held forth regarding Religion in our fair state; and he offered up this gem of oratory, taken from The Harp of a Thousand Strings; or, Laughter for a Lifetime, ed. S.P. Avery, and supposedly gleaned by the latter from a collection of travelling preachers' tales, or parodies thereof:

"Bretheren and sisteren, I do not come before you this evening to engage in any grammar talk or college high-falutin' but I come to prepare a pervarse generation for the day of wrath, and my text, when you find it, you'll find it 'twixt the lids of this old Bible, from the first chapter of Second Chronicles to the last chapter of Timothy-Titus, and when you find it, you'll find it in these words, 'And they shall gnaw a file, and flee into the mountains of Hespudam, where the lion roareth, and the whang-doodle mourneth for its first-born,' ahhh." [Here the preacher breathes out a deep 'ahhh,' for added effect, supposedly.]
     "Now, my bretheren and sisteren, there's different kinds of files.  There's the rat-tailed file, and there's the handsaw file, and there's the crosscut file, and there's the profile and the defile... but the text says, 'they shall gnaw a file, and flee into the mountains of Hespudam, where the lion roareth, and the whang-doodle mourneth for its first-born,' ahh.
     "And brethren and sisteren, there are many kinds of dams.  There's Amsterdam, and then there's Rotterdam, and there's Beaverdam, but the last of all and the worst of all, my bretheren, is "I don't give a damn," but the text says that 'They shall gnaw a file, and flee into the mountains of Hespudam, where the lion roareth and the whang-doodle mourneth for its first-born,' ahh.
     "Now, my bretheren and sisteren, this reminds me of the man who lived upon the north fork of Little Pine Creek in Madison County, North Carolina.  He had a little mill, but he ground a heap of corn, but one night the fountain of the great deep was broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened and the rains descended, the winds came and washed that little man's mill to Kingdom Come.  He got up the next morning and told the good old wife of his bosom that he wasn't worth a damn!  But the text says that 'they shall gnaw a file, and flee into the mountains of Hespudam, where the lion roareth, and the whang-doodle mourneth for its first-born,' ahh.
     "My bretheren and sisteren, this doesn't mean the howling wilderness where John the Hardshelled Baptist fed on locusts and wild asses, but it means the City of New Orleans, the mother of harlots and hard-lots, where corn is six bits a bushel one day and nary a red the next, and where thieves and pickpockets go skitting about like weasels in a barnyard, and where honest men are scarcer n'hen's teeth, and where a woman once took up your beloved preacher and bamboozled him out of a hundred and twenty-seven plunks in three jerks of the eye and the twinkling of a sheep's tail, but she can't do it again, hallelujah!"

Strange, how old threads of memory waft up out of their dustbin at odd whiles.  So, with the Singing River and the yowls of the whang-doodle behind me, and thoughts of John Edmond Gonzales and my days as an academic in my mind, I left the swamp again, to search for the Ivorybill another day. 

 Juvenile Little Blue Heron.

 IBWO-1, always a welcome sight after a hot day on the trail.

 Juvenile white ibis.

Conclusions:  This will be the last survey I will make of the Hutson Lake area of the Pascagoula WMA until leaf-fall later in Autumn.  Hopefully, more bark scaling and cavities will be visible then.  My next IBWO survey area:  Black Creek, for which there is an IBWO encounter (kents) on record from the 1970's.

 Black Creek landing, between Benndale and Wiggins.

 Looking downstream, where after many miles Black Creek eventually joins Red Creek before emptying into the Pascagoula River.