Monday, July 21, 2008


By the time last weekend rolled in, I got in my usual panic of trying to decide where to go take pictures. Since it's July in Arkansas, with the heat index being well over 100, it wasn't good hiking weather. And any place in the Ozarks would require a good drive. So I pulled out the always reliable Arkansas Nature Lover's Guidebook by Tim Ernst, in order to find a good spot to get a few pictures.

I settled on a few places in the swampy lands of the Arkansas delta, places that I'd never been to before and were a relatively short drive from home. Those places were Apple Lake and Robe Bayou, in the Big Woods area near Brinkley (or about 50 miles east of Little Rock).

This area is close to the spot where the elusive and long-thought extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was spotted a few years ago. No one has been able to get a good shot of the bird to prove that it still exists, and at both places there are signs up with detailed descriptions of the bird, with the hope that someone will find it amongst the cypress and tupelo swamps.

I got to Apple Lake and started on the short hike that leads to the lake, keeping an eye out for any sort of bird. I did see this one out there, but I'm not sure if it's the Ivory-Billed or the more common pileated woodpecker. See if you can spot it here in this picture:
Searching for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Actually visiting these swamps in person shows just how immense of a task it would be to spot the bird in the wild. The Ivory-Billed was seen around the White River Wildlife Refuge, which contains just 160,000 acres. Much of the land is like this, underwater, so it's hard to get a lot of people out to keep an eye out for a few birds.

While I didn't end up spotting the Ivory-Billed woodpecker, I did manage to see an armadillo.

Apple Lake is a neat place, lots of neat trees sitting in the water.
Apple Lake

Apple Lake

From Apple Lake I then drove into Brinkley, with the idea of trying to find something to eat. I drove around the small downtown area of the city, and found this random building that had some interesting writing on it:
No Drinking

I wanted to reach the next place, Robe Bayou, when there was some nice evening light coming through. I did ok on the timing, the light wasn't all that bad on the drive into the Wildlife Management Area.
Robe Bayou Scenic Drive

And a view of a dirt road that stretched out deep into the refuge:
By Robe Bayou

The road I took followed along Robe Bayou, which would have some nice views of the water along the way. I stopped but didn't really get any good shots. The road ends at Hickson Lake, which provided some good spots for pictures.
Hickson Lake

Hickson Lake

Hickson Lake

There was some good evening light falling through the trees, and I have to say that it is a scenic little area.
Hickson Lake

After that I headed on home, but was pleased with how the day turned out. I was a bit hesitant to go out there. The scenery in this part of the state isn't as famous as that of the Ozarks (plus I was worried about snakes), but it made for a good trip. Plus I was only about 50 miles from home, so the drive back didn't take that long at all. I might just have to head back out there, maybe to resume my search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. There is a $10,000 reward for any pictures of the bird, so it would be a good place for another trip soon...


Belinda said...

WOW, these are some fantastic photos, really amazing reflections captured!

Also, while viewing them, I think I got mosquito-bit. ;-)

Cormackphotos said...

Thanks Belinda, got a few mosquito bites, but luckily no snake bites!

Jonw said...

I have to say, these are definitely some of my favorite landscape photos you've posted. Top of my list is the third from the bottom--the reflections, color, and depth of field really anchor you in the scene.

This series really gives the viewer a great sense of what it would be like standing there in that evening light. You can almost hear the sounds of the swamp.

That bird is a little suspect me crazy but I think you might have photoshopped it in there...

Cormackphotos said...

Thanks Jon, I'm glad you liked them. I don't usually go out to places like this around here, but got some really good light out there...

And dang, you found out my secret with my Ivory-Billed shot. Shhh! Don't tell National Geographic, I was going to sumbit it there!