Neil Gaiman Searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Woo Hoo! I can upload images to blogger in the usual way, I heart blogger again.

Read an early press release on the Ivory-bill search at WildBird on the Fly. It's good to have a friend on the inside of the media.

Okay, not many people know this, but when I when down to Arkansas, Neil Gaiman came along and aided with the search. After all. we are such good friends and I try to sneak him away birding whenever we can. He had a good time and since info is available, I can talk aobut this now. By the way, all the photos in this entry are from Sharon Stiteler Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Here was the trailer that Neil slept in. It wasn't bad until one night when it got down to 20 degrees, the propane tank ran out and because of low water supplies we were asked not to use the bathroom unless it was an "emergency".

Here is Gene Sparling with Neil. Gene was the kayaker who got the whole ball rolling with his sighting on the Cache River. Gene offered to take Neil kayaking sometime. I think they were fast friends.

Here is Neil sporting his camo. Silly writer, he forgot his ghillie suit so I loaned him peices of mine. He blended in very well with the cypress knees. He was so covered up, a winter wren even tried to roost in him...or maybe was looking for insect larvae tucked in his hair.

We were both very amazed by the vines and the twisting they did around each other. Above, Neil waits patiently for an ivory-billed woodpecker to fly by in the White River WMA. We had to move along from this area though. Barred owls were all over the place and for some reason one swooped here. Perhaps Neil just moved just enough under his camo to give the impression he was a colony of mice as opposed to an award-winning author.

Ooooo, this looks like intriguing horizontal scaling mixed with some pileated woodpecker cavities. Could this be the work of an ivory-bill or a prankster pileated? Neil removed his camo so we could use his body as a size comparison. Whatever woodpecker did this is enormous...I don't know if we want to find it. I'm kinda scared.

Oh no, someone help quick! Neil got caught in one of the bazillions of briar patches--a big downside to walking around in the White River WMA. Any camo worn by searchers, whether it was a ghillie suit or bug suit was ripped to shreds. I wonder how much camo was left in the woods after all the searchers left?

I don't know what kind of fungus this was, but it sure looked cool. Neil blended very well. Can you find him? We heard several double knocks in the White River WMA, but we soon learned that everything gives double knocks: pileated woodpeckers, red-headed woodpeckers, water bottles in your backpack, your stomach, trees blowing in the wind, duck name it. We learned not to trust double knocking as sign of ivory-bills.

This was as close as Neil got to seeing an actual ivory-bill. We thought this sign telling people to look for the ivory-bill was a little funny, since no one has really seen the head on the bird. We had an adventure, it was a blast.