"...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."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Swamp Trek -- The Next Generation

My brother Brian and I took our children -- his son Gavin (3+), my stepson Aslan (13), and my daughter Belle (12) -- out early on the morning of April 1, for a taste of the wild Pascagoula River Basin.  We explored along the River itself at Sandy Wash Bend; stopped at one of the Rimes Lakes, where we were watched by a pair of swallow-tailed kites; and went for a short hike on the south end of the Stronghold, where the old forest road bisects Elephant Man Swamp.  We visited Hollow Man, who allowed the children to stand inside him, and hiked a little further up to the new beaver dam.

It was a long drive down for them, and they had to get up very early.  We were done and headed back north out of the Basin by noon.  We all had a great time.  The kids felt the current of the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states, and experienced firsthand true swamp and bottomland forest.

It was a day Brian and I could have spent exploring a new corner of the Pascagoula River Swamp, or monitoring the Stronghold for a few hours; but I hope bringing the children to this place will yield results far beyond my field of vision.

On another note:  if you are not already aware, our friends at Project Coyote recently obtained exciting new audio from their search area.  Follow the link here to open in a new window, or click on the link to their site on the right of this page.