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!
6 thoughts on “It’s A Wild Wild Life”
As always, I enjoyed your docu-venture! Thanks
Thanks for the new word – docu-venture!
A Wildlife Festival! I love it. You could have stayed an extra day to do the free tour… 🙂 Although, it looks and sounds like you got your activity fill, based on the photos. How interesting and fascinating. And, I can see why you own binoculars now. Glad to see you keep using the kayak. Were you in the water when spotting the alligators?
Like you, we are attracted by green blobs on Google Maps, especially when looking for a lunch stop/picnic spot and to take Maya for a walk.
Each time I read your blogs, I think: “We should do stuff like this more often.” I realize that being as frugal as we are, we do miss out on things. We easily skip sites with entrance fees, just because of that reason, like the St. Augustine lighthouse the other day.
I also feel that I’d sightsee and visit more things if it wasn’t for Mark claiming it’s not worth the money to him, which doesn’t mean I couldn’t go (I have in the past), but it usually has me pass as well. 🙁 I’m determined to change this approach in the future, though.
No we weren’t in the water when we saw the alligators. The ranger did assure me that they wouldn’t bother us if we saw any. I think it would be cool to see one while we are kayaking but a little unnerving.
I kind of have a limit on how much we will pay for tours and entrance fees. Depending on the situation we might go over that. We paid for two lighthouse climbs in the Panhandle which I might have not normally sprung for but it seemed like the money was going for a good cause. This is why I don’t mind spending money for camping at National Parks sometimes – I love supporting National Parks and we get such amazing value out of our park pass.
It is more fun to do these things with another person but perhaps you do need to just start leaving Mark behind. I don’t think we’ve ever paid for a museum or tour we’ve been disappointed in.
Love the raptor shots
Thanks! It was fun seeing them.