Conversations With A Fellow IBWO Searcher

Today, I went out to Carpenter Nature Center to meet with Jim Fitzpatrick and Jen Vieth. Jim runs Carpenter and his brother John is the director of Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For awhile it was said that Jim had seen an ivory-billed woodpecker and his brother who runs the lab had not. I wonder if that is still the case or if it changed this winter?

I had heard many great things about Jim and was eager to finally meet him and it's always a treat to visit Carpenter, which was once voted by City Pages as one of the best kept secrets for nature in the Twin Cities. I was excited, as soon as I got out of the car, I heard my first eastern phoebe of the year and there were a few buffleheads (pictured in blog) hanging out on a nearby pond.

When I arrived, I headed for the administrative offices and stuck my hands in my was at that exact moment I remembered that was the place I had decided to store some owl pellets I found yesterday at the woodcock spot in Carver Park. They now had massed into a wad of damp fur and bone. Not wanting to shake Jim's hand with damp pellety hands, I had to seek the nearest restroom when I entered the building.

When Jim and I finally met and sat down to talk, I told him that we had something in common. "You and I have both seen A type cavities."

He eyed me curiously. Jen asked, "What's an A cavity." Jim replied, "A big cavity." I added, "A potential ivory-billed cavity."

Jen asked the inevitable question, "I suppose no one in your group had an encounter?" Jim and I looked at each other, what would the other say? Does he know something that I don't know about the search this winter? Do I know something that he might know? Does he think I know he knows something? Do I know, if he knows if he knows something? The questions in my head got too confusing and I told Jen our pat answer: "I am not at liberty to say if anyone in our group did or did not have an encounter with that particular species of woodpecker."

(Although, I did hear a rumor that recently one of the volunteer searchers in the White River area got bit by a Cottonmouth, but it was a dry bite and they are okay.)

Carpenter is a great place for school groups and for adults just looking for a remote spot to chill out. It's right along the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin and will be just chock full of warblers in about four weeks. Today I saw lots of eagles, vultures and red-tailed hawks moving along and even four pelicans. I learned that on Friday mornings when it's not raining, they do songbird banding. I'm going to try and make a point to visit this spring. Next Friday I will be in Ohio and the Friday after that I will be in Utah so it may have to wait until May.

Well, off to dissect some pellets.