December 14 – December 16, 2019.
I may have mentioned before that I have started planning where we go by just looking at Google Maps. I find that the green blobs on the map are usually interesting – being national parks, state parks, wildlife management areas, wildlife preserves, and other naturey things.
When I was looking at the map for things to do in Mississippi I saw a particularly large green blob not far from the coast near the Alabama border. I zoomed in on it. It was the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. I clicked on the link to the website and found out that they give free bus tours of the refuge. No schedule was listed, they requested you just call ahead for info. I love tours – especially when they are free so I made a mental note to ring them up when I knew when we might be in the area.
When we made our plans to move on from Florida to Mississippi I checked the website again for the refuge’s phone number. This is when I noticed that there wasn’t going to be a tour the day we were planning to visit. There was going to be a free crane festival instead!
I think this was my very first wildlife festival. Kind of like a music festival, there was a line up of presentations. Some of them overlapped but most of them repeated twice during the day. We made a plan hoping not to miss a thing.
Most of the presentations were in the visitor center. Outside there were booths from a variety of organizations ranging from an art museum to a brand new aquarium. I think every organization from a 50-mile radius involved with wildlife or the environment was represented.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore – Davis Bayou
After Crane Fest, we headed to another green blob on the map – Davis Bayou, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. You may remember that we had previously visited the Gulf Islands National Seashore when were visited Fort Pickens in Pensacola. This National Seashore is actually a series of Islands running along the gulf coast of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Many of these islands are only accessible by boat. And only two of the locations have campgrounds – Fort Pickens and Davis Bayou.
We camped for two days at Davis Bayou. We went on two ranger walks, an intro to birding (why we now own a pair of binoculars) and an alligator walk. We also broke out the kayak (she has a name now, Pirogue Bleue*) and spent an afternoon stalking birds with my camera.
* We were inspired traveling in Cajun country recently. Piroque is a cajun canoe. Bleue is the female French word for Blue.
Do you have a fun or interesting wildlife experience? Have a favorite green blob on the map? Tell us about it in the comments!