NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
27 Jan 2002
LouisianaSt. Tammany County
- Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge
- 30.5475 -89.793889
- 49:07 - 1:27:33
- SONY TCD-D8
DPA 4060 omni mics. Lectrosonics 195 Series Wideband UHF Diversity Wireless System.
Log of DAT #: 18
Engineer: Flawn Williams
Date: January 27, 2002
Sunday wireless 1 of 2
John Fitzpatrick on right track, Chris Joyce on left.
getting ready, getting boots on.
The one we're going for is this. Any place in here would be great. Martjan said we really ought to put one there. We'd already in advance thought of putting on nearby. WE can go where this crosses and shoot our line in here. And if we get stymied by water here¿
That's all water in here. We're not going to be able get there without crossing water.
So that's the shot that we want to try to make.
discussion of route, where to place the ARUs.
This is the area that is most accessible by road.
Because of these roads, this is the place where birdwatchers come when they want to see the Pearl for a day or two and catch site maybe of the ivorybill. They come down here and wander around and hope they can see it when they're walking these roads. So this area is the most heavily covered by casual observers and also scientists who want to come down for a day or people from LSU come over and search for a while, because the Kulivan sighting was near here because it's accessible.
And you don't think that it's too heavily visited that it might be actually counterproductive to put in an ARU.
Ironically that's where the Kulivan report came from. I'm pretty convinced that if there are still these birds here they know what hunter orange is and they know what a shotgun sounds like. They can't have survived here and been eluding hunters at the same time because it's so heavy hunted here. However, it is reasonable to imagine that they would avoid that area some because it's so heavily populated. So we're going to put the things kind of around the periphery of it. We have one pretty well in the center of it right there. I think it's pretty well covered.
And they have a big range.
Yeah, an ivorybill home range is basically what we're looking at here. In the Singer tract their home range was about three miles, which is about what we're looking at right here.
So potentially this could be a single pair in here.
One pair could be using this entire area. You wouldn't get more than one pair in here. It's from zero to one pair density here. And our job is to find out whether it's a zero or a one.
Let's go guys.
FX open car door beeping.
ambi riding in car.
getting out of car. Way too far. Turning around
We're just going to go in right here.
car doors slamming.
Pileated's still calling away.
FX door slamming.
FX zipper pulled.
We're aiming for almost due west of here. We're aiming for a zone down in here, no particular one spot but somewhere in that region. And it's just about due west from where we are now. Let's aim it about 260.
Okay, let's GPS this spot.
Here's a promo for the Ivorybill woodpecker. It was once America's most magnificent bird: the ivorybill woodpecker. It became extinct over 50 years ago. Or did it? Join a National Public Radio/National Geographic Society Radio Expedition into the bayous of Louisiana, in search of the Lord God Bird. Coming up on Morning Edition. Monday on Morning Edition. Tuesday on Morning Edition.
(Chris does the promo again.)
I'm Christopher Joyce. (Does the promo again.)
So, you've got how many items here and what are they?
Oh god. From back to front I've got the video unit which I keep along to document a little bit of the exercise but also obviously in case we happen to see the bird I want to have some video record of it. I've got my leatherman tool, I've got my GPS unit. I've got my binoculars. I've got my camera, which takes standard, good old 35mm film. And I've got the maps. And I've got the compass, down here.
And the Cornell hat.
And I've got the Cornell lab of Ornithology hat. Absolutely. We wouldn't want to see an Ivorybill woodpecker without it.
Boxers or briefs?
I'm a boxer guy. And I just want to point out that I would not want to see an ivorybill woodpecker without wearing a Cornell lab of Ornithology hat.
Alright, lets head out. We're doing 260 degrees. Just a hair south of west.
walking out. Feet crunching.
Well, we've encountered our first bayou.
That's how long we get to stay dry guys.
trudging through swampy water.
We're going up that direction.
Crossing a little slue here, a little bayou. The water's actually quite clear; the bottom's covered with leaves. It has a kind of reddish tinge. Wouldn't want to do this in the summer. Now the ground is pretty much clear of underbrush, just a lot of leaves and a few small bushes. I think the safest thing to do here, to avoid drop offs, is to walk in the footsteps of the walker in front of you. It seems to want to suck the boots off of you.
more trudging through water.
Much scrubbier stuff than we were walking through yesterday.
At least it doesn't have leaves on it.
And it's also the stems are all thinner. So this is a more recent cut piece of the area.
Yeah, the trees look pretty small here.
The trees are small, which gives a lot more under story light, which makes the whole thing more brushy. Which makes it crummy for what we're after. But we knew we had to go through it.
So something better lies ahead.
That's what we think from the aerial photo we think it's better up there.
more walking through water.
What's the toughest forest you've had to get through?
Bamboo in the amazon. We discovered an undescribed bird, only found in the thickest bamboo thickets in the face of the Andes. Trying to follow that bird through the spiny bamboo filled with ants, for half a mile through these thickets. It was horrible.
Did you find the bird?
Yeah, we got the bird, we got some specimens. Cool new undescribed ant bird.
What'd you call it?
We named it after the Manu park. It's the Manu ant bird. Beautiful thing.
Who's the birder who works down there all the time, Charlie Munn?
Conversation continues about Charlie Munn.
more trudging through water.
Okay, we've hit our first drainage. Meaning there's flowing water here. Pileated woodpeckers calling overhead almost constantly.
41:00 GPS beeping.
I wouldn't set it up over here. This just doesn't look any good.
It's pretty deep. Goes down. We've got to fan out a little bit and find a crossing.
FX great splashing noise.
We're at a small stream here, muddy brown. Looks to be about 10 or 15 yards across. But there's no way of telling how deep it is, short of going in and sinking up to your neck in mud.
It's about up to the crotch, eh? It's up to but not beyond the crotch?
"we've got a spot up here!"
What do you guys have?
"we've got a spot."
Easy? Let's go up there.
"We've gotta cross here."
good deal, let's go up there.
okay, half way across, seems to be okay. Comes right to the top of my waders, just barely making it. John, how you doing back there? Actually that water feels nice and cool after a long hike.
FX sloshing through water back onto dry land.
FX sloshing through deep water, onto land.
Waste-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool says to push on.
Is there any particular reason you're taking a measurement?
It's one of the ways we can check the, let's see, this is an exactly 9 foot circumference water oak. Divide by pi so we have a three foot wide or slightly less than three foot wide tree and it's a way to gauge the age of the forest and compare place to place with some level of standardization. Diameter breast height is the standard way the foresters use and wildlife managers use to compare sizes of the woods. And I was taking them all day yesterday. We had a 15 foot circumference tree yesterday. (CJ: cypress?) Cypress, yeah.
Not many of them left.
So I'm trying to choose the largest of the trees of the region and get measurements of those just to have a crude comparative picture.
(wading again.) Another, littler drainage.
ambi, wading through water.
FX shotgun blast in the distance, echoes.
It's getting a little thicker in here. Some occasional ferns it looks like, or underbrush. Even without the leaves it's a little tricky going with the mud underneath and the branches everywhere, a few cypress trees, oak trees, brambles and thorns of course, and lots of mud. I think it would be very very easy to get lost in here and never find your way out, and never find your way out.
walking, leaves crunching underfoot.
So yesterday we had a two foot diameter spruce pine. Here is the spruce pines for this place, about 8 inches. It's a wide swath of this stuff that we knew we had to cross. Got to keep some level of hope here. 260. I just turned myself a little bit, we're going that way. 260 is way down there; I just turned off almost 90 degrees, focusing on that spruce pine.
So this is a willow oak. Rob? I wonder how Rob's doing. He's a strong work-out game kid. When he doesn't want to go¿it's a little bit worrying. How you feeling? Same?
barn owl call (human?) in the distance.
Conversation about measuring a tree, the birds calling overhead¿Carolina wrens and phoebes.
Yup, it's a phoebe. They have a wintertime song that's just a little single tick and then they make that tweet-tweet-tweet as almost a little territorial note in the winter.
FX bird calling over sounds of feet crunching.
God, it just feels like we're walking in the worst stuff here.
That's Steve doing the bard owl, and not the real thing.
ambi. More walking. A owl call in the beginning.
This one looks like a good piece of water also.
This one has some flow in it.
yeah, it looks a little bigger than that last crossing, doesn't it. So, truly properly prepared we would have had a little sheet converting inches to kilometers. Give me the reading, 880 meters.
1:04:42 unmiked voice.
880 meters? That's 2.3 inches, 2.4 inches
What'd you say it is?
it's more like 2.5 inches
That's why if we had a little card it would be¿We like to play with a little variation in our¿yup, that's this drainage. (1:05:14 CJ: That's the big one on the map.) This is where we are, right there. So we've walked through this, see how it looks greenish in there. That's all this crummy stuff. And our theory, where we're aiming is across¿this is going to be our most challenging drainage right here. Cause if we can get across it we've got more of this crummy stuff and then we get into this ridge and that's where we're hoping to get. So if we can figure out how to cross it I think we've solved our worst ah¿
how far, how many inches?
You mean total? Or left, remaining?
we've come about half way. It's about another two inches, what we want to walk. That converts to ah, well under half a mile, like 4/10ths of a mile.
So, our challenge is to see if we can figure out a way to cross this baby. Without soaking up the reason that we came here, all the electronics.
okay, you want to go one way I'll go the other? Wait a minute, it looks like we're all headed this way. Is it deep over there?
Crossing over. Lots of sloshing noises and some conversation. Laughter about how deep it will get. More bard owl calls. JF snapping photos. Jovial banter. Great sloshing noises of getting water out of the waders towards the end, along with laughter and conversation.
Okay, another 600 meters to go maybe? This looks horrible, doesn't it, horrible. We're going 260, right? It sort of parallels this drainage.
ambi, walking along, some watery footsteps, lots of crunching underfoot.
Well the underbrush is clearing a little bit here and we're getting into some bigger trees. The big trees cut out the sunlight so you don't get as much underbrush/under story. It's quite beautiful here.
FX bard owl calls.
Towards that tall cypress is where we're heading.
Wow. A trail, a road, a logging road. And a rather large¿very interesting.
Bard owl call.
rolling out a tube, map.
This is the biggest body of water we've come across so far. Yesterday did we see something this big?
The question I have is, we've just hit this big piece of water. Which way is it flowing? To the left. It's going down there. I'm just wondering if it's this thing and if we go up a hair. No way is this road marked on this map. It's an old old logging road. It certainly makes for nicer walking. Why don't we follow it up that way, it should be a little north of west. And if it's that looped thing we'll eventually get to the end of it. And if it's not we'll figure it out at the time. That's where we're heading. Well, it's a nice cypress tupelo bottomland. Why don't you go take a hike Steve?
I think it looks like one we don't want to cross. And fortunately looks like one on the map that we don't have to cross.
Well it certainly looks nice on the other side.
Yeah. That's what we were pointing at. Bigger trees, cleaner under story, older forest. And probably what we've hit here is the edge of a logging concession. It was cut more recently down here and that's an older forest. You can even see the difference on the two sides of the water.
John and Steve count and record how many birds they have counted independently. 5 pileated, 12 redbellies, 1 flicker, 1 downy, no hairies, no sapsuckers.
FX bard owl call.
When it displays what does it do?
It displays on the top of a dead tree, it's that howl, very very deep resonant bup bup bup bup bup bup. Kind of raggedy at the end. And it chooses very hollow drumlike logs. So it goes a long way. You can hear it a quarter mile or maybe even a half mile away.
You see that cypress over there? Another nice big beauty? I'm just going to crack a picture of this pretty spot, ivorybill or no ivorybill.
ambi, walking along, sometimes through water.
There's a good woodpecker-stripping tree here.
We've got a good woodpecker tree here. I think we're winding around.
See all the beetle borings in here? All these larvae channels?
It's underneath the bark.
Yeah, this is a tree that's, where most of the life is gone out of it now. It's just a little too old to be ideal. See now we're in termite land here.
This would be beyond the stage that an ivorybill would want.
Yeah, these termites feed all the smaller woodpeckers so that's why this place is so full of woodpeckers.
That's the woods we're after.
See how nice that is?
deciding where to set up the ARU, whether or not they can cross this body of water.
finally decide not to cross, just to put the ARU where they are.
I feel like a walking radio shack. I'm wired, I've got headphones¿
walking around. Finding a spot for the ARU.
FX both John and Steve giving bard owl calls.
Just for the record, Kurt, can you tell us why you're doing this?
kurt's response too far away to hear.
measuring the tree. 5 feet 2.
Placement of ARU #10.