Day-to-day log of the 2012 search season

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8-27-11. I kicked off the search season with an observation session in Tree 6.

9-7-11. I visited the swamp near Tree 7 on the Mississippi side. That area resembles areas where I have had sightings on the Louisiana side, and it’s more secluded.

10-20-11. It was a gorgeous fall day. I visited the area between where the videos were obtained in 2006 and 2008. I noticed that a huge pine that was killed by Katrina has finally toppled.

11-5-11. I climbed Tree 9, where the woodpeckers were active despite the wind.

11-8-11. I visited the area near Tree 6. The swamp is starting to have the feel of ivorybill season.

11-9-11. Charles Williams and I hiked from Indian Bayou Rd. all the way down to I-10 (more than five miles as the crow flies through difficult terrain). I had always wanted to do that but wasn’t sure it was possible without swimming across bayous. We used a kayak to ferry across one bayou but were able to wade across the others. Along the way, we explored Lost Bayou and visited Tree 5 and Tree 0. I was pleased to see that the rigging lines for those trees are still in place more than three years since my last visits to them. We saw three cottonmouths, and two of them were close calls.

12-17-11. I did a stakeout to the south of Tree 6 this afternoon. There was a nice Barred Owl duet nearby.

1-29-12. The woodpeckers were very active in the vicinity of Tree 6 this afternoon.

2-14-12. Grayson Rayborn joined me for a visit to Tree 6.

3-5-12. I took the kayak up through the areas where the 2006 and 2008 videos were obtained.

3-8-12. I did a stakeout near Tree 6, where the bird activity was low. Seven juvenile pigs wandered over to within a few feet of me. I saw two other large groups of pigs, and a couple of them were huge.

3-10-12. I started hiking down one of the trails and was attacked by a swarm of skeeters.

3-11-12. I spent some time on Old Hwy. 11.

3-16-12. I took the kayak up to the Tree 6 area on a gorgeous day.

3-18-12. I took the kayak up the East Pearl.

3-21-12. I have not been able to get out this week due to high winds and other bad weather.

3-24-12. We had a tremendous amount of rain during the past few days. I took advantage of the high water to kayak into some areas that are usually inaccessible.

3-29-12. It has been exactly four years since my last sighting. Is it because I have spent less time in the swamp in recent years? Have the birds died or moved? Is the habitat less suitable now that it has been nearly seven years since Katrina?

3-30-12. I spent five hours in the kayak today. Once again, I took advantage of the high water. It was a beautiful day with lots of woodpecker activity. I found some squared off cavities in a cypress that are similar to the ones that I found near Tree 6 around the time when the 2008 video was obtained.

4-1-12. I spent some time on one of the trails south of Old Hwy. 11. Kulivan’s sighting in the Pearl was 13 years ago today.

4-8-12. I spent six hours in the kayak. The high water made it possible to go all the way up to Tree 8 and beyond. Then I kayaked back to Tree 6 along the flooded trail. It seemed that the number of Swainson’s Warblers increased dramatically last year. There has been another apparent increase this year. I heard about 20 of them today. The area near Tree 6 doesn’t yet have the Emerald Bayou appearance that it will have after the rest of the leaves come out.

4-12-12. I hiked out to the Tree 7 area on the Mississippi side.

4-15-12. Now that the water has gone back down, I spent the morning hiking on various trails in the Honey Island Swamp and came across a bobcat pawprint.

4-19-12. I visited the Tree 7 area again.

4-21-12. It has been suggested that the woodpecker in this clip from the 2007 video seems to move too quickly to be a large woodpecker. In terms of quickness, however, the movements of that woodpecker seem to be consistent with the movements of the large woodpecker in this clip from the 2006 video. Both clips play at full speed.

4-22-12. I did several stakeouts along the trail to Tree 6. The spider lilies are now in bloom.

4-27-12. One of my best friends and colleagues, Bill Siegmann, joined me for a visit to the Tree 6 area on a gorgeous morning. As we climbed over a fallen tree, Bill said, “Hey look — a snakeskin.” I should have had some fun and told him to pick it up, but I replied, “Oh yeah — and there’s a snake inside of it.” Bill then posed with the Speckled Kingsnake.

4-29-12. I hiked in from the Mississippi side to the Tree 7 area. Then I explored to the north along the edge of the bayou. The highlight of the morning was flushing a Chuck-will’s-widow.

4-30-12. I visited the Tree 7 area, where there was a high level of woodpecker activity.

5-8-12. I did a stakeout along Emerald Bayou on a gorgeous morning that was alive with birdsong (57 megs).

5-10-12. I did some work on the trail to Tree 9 this afternoon. It took a while to find the trailhead since the marker was missing. Lots of thorny vegetation had grown across the trail, which was blocked in one spot by a fallen tree. It was nearly sunset by the time I got back to the car.

5-12-12. It was supposed to rain this morning, but I took a chance and hiked out to Tree 9. The trip was worth it just to get a great look at a singing Swainson’s Warbler. It’s hard to see them in the dense vegetation in the Pearl. I spent an hour crawling around on my hands and knees trying to see the same bird a few days ago. This morning, I caught it out in the open and got by far my best view ever of that species. The climb up Tree 9 went well. The sky was threatening at first, but then the sun came out. It was windy and the bird activity was lower than it was a few days ago along Emerald Bayou.

5-13-12. I visited a scenic bayou that I had never before explored. I checked out the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nests (a nestling can be seen in a nest in the background) on the way down the trail to Tree 6, which doesn’t look at all like it did when flooded on April 8. A splotch of bright yellow on Old Hwy. 11 turned out to be an unfortunate roadkill.

5-17-12. One of my best friends and colleagues, Lou Fishman, joined me for a visit to Tree 6. I was glad that he finally got to see the area after discussing the flyunder video with him so many times.

5-19-12. I visited Tree 0 to replace the rigging line, but the old line broke when I tried to disentangle it from vines. The cypress-tupelo swamp is gorgeous at this time of year. I found several trees in a concentrated area with scaling and other foraging.

5-20-12. This photo and the one at the top of the page were obtained in a cypress-tupelo swamp in the middle of the day. It was stunningly beautiful with all the fresh leaves and the sun nearly directly overhead. There was something about the lighting and all of the green.

5-25-12. While crossing the I-10 bridge over the Pearl on the way home yesterday, I saw a large bird flying at high speed just over the treetops near the vicinity of Tree 0. It was too far away to see any details, but the flight gave the impression of ivorybill. The heat and humidity have set in, but I will try to spend some time in the trees during the next few weeks.

5-26-12. I did a stakeout in the Tree 7 area on the Mississippi side. Woodpecker activity was fairly high despite the heat.

5-28-12. On the way to do a stakeout along Emerald Bayou, I flushed about a dozen turkey fledglings from the high grass on the trail. They flew into the woods when I got to within about 20 feet. There were more than 20 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nestlings at Crown Lake. On the way back, I followed the narrow trail to Tree 9 and retrieved the climbing rope that was stashed out there.

5-29-12. When the conditions are right, Emerald Bayou is the most gorgeous swamp location I have ever seen. The vegetation and light conditions were just right when photos such as this one were obtained in June 2008. I was hoping for similar conditions yesterday, but the sky was hazy and there was a film on the surface of the bayou when photos such as this one were obtained.

6-5-12. I visited the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nests at Crown Lake. Some of the young are still in the nest, some are on nearby branches, and some are fully fledged and on the ground. I watched the transit of Venus from the Mississippi side. Besides the dark disk corresponding to Venus, I noticed some prominent sunspots. I wanted to get a photo of the event with the sun setting behind the swamp rather than rising behind a building (from Virginia on June 8, 2004), but clouds got in the way.

6-17-12. The swamp was gorgeous this morning. A breeze helped reduce the effects of the heat and insects. There are still a few young on the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nests.

A day-to-day log of the 2013 search season is posted here.