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Day 7 (Friday, 22nd April)

Jones forest

Coral Snake

The Forest

Coral Snake

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are (or were until the subsequent news of Ivory-billed Woodpecker returning from the dead) the most endangered woodpecker in the USA. This forest is one of the better locations to see them, since it contains numerous active clusters in a small area. We had 5 hours on the last morning before returning to the airport, so decided to give them a try. When we arrived, we headed straight for People’s Road, where we had been told of an active cluster. We gave this about an hour without any luck, apart from a single Downy Woodpecker next to the private ranch, along with female Indigo Bunting and Carolina Chickadee. We decided to find a member of the park staff for more information, which was at first closed, but returned after a hapless search down the privately owned Jones Road where we found one of the staff. It transpired that one of the best clusters was directly behind the office on the loop trail, and also the discouraging news that they were usually most active late in the day. Perhaps the one day delay of the trip due to our missed connection in Paris, where we had planned a late afternoon visit had we been on time, might now be proving costly. However, we started well around the office, with family parties of Eastern Bluebird, and Brown-headed Nuthatch above, with quite a number of Pine Warblers singing. We then started on the loop, just after seeing Red-headed Woodpecker from the office clearing, which was replaced by a pair of American Kestrels (the female with a lizard). We walked some way along the loop, and added more Red-headed Woodpeckers and a singing Yellow-breasted Chat, but time was pressing on, so we started on the return leg. After a short way, our path was crossed by a stunning Coral Snake. We watched it from only about 15 feet, until it disappeared into the leaf litter. We decided that this would more than make up for our lack of rattlesnake, and even Red-cockaded Woodpeckers if they continued to be elusive. That thought was sealed, when only 5 minutes later, in a pool to the left of the track, we found another snake, this one much larger and almost totally dark, which the park staff named as Water Mocassin. It stopped swimming and gave superb scope views. Almost back at the office, we tried a slightly different track, where we found yet another pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers excavating a hole in a dead tree above, but this was only a prelude to finding our main quarry – a Red-cockaded Woodpecker using an active nest. We had seen the hole, but were told that these trees were marked with a green band, which this one lacked. The bird then obliged by flying around us, regularly landing on nearby trees. Unbelievably, we found a second bird minutes later. This was to be the last species seen on the trip. Not a bad ending!

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only