Mississippi Day Two: A Sunrise, Pitcher Plants And Woodpeckers But No Sandhill Cranes.
I awoke refreshed on Thursday in Pascagoula Mississippi. Sleep will do that to you. Especially when you are traveling. I still needed my coffee and was delighted to have a Kurig coffee maker in my room. As I sipped on my coffee I was deciding where to watch the sunrise. I knew my next destination would be the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refugee and look for the rare and endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes. But it was 6 a.m. and I wanted to find a good location on the drive to watch the sunrise. Searching Google maps I decided to drive to River Park along the Pascagoula River. It was about a 5 mile drive from my hotel.
Getting here was more interesting than I planned. I drove on Highway 90 until I crossed the bridge over the Pascagoula River. I than exited on the ramps leading toward the massive Ingalls Shipbuilding Complex, the largest employer in the State of Mississippi. It has built over 70% of the United States Navy. I made a U-turn and drove through some deserted back roads to get to the River Park. I am not a fearful person but it did look or feel like a safe place. However, it was near sunrise so I had no choice but to exit my SUV and watch the sunrise. I walked in the park, which was really only a large parking lot. There was an old ship along the river but nothing else.
I walked about mile in the parking lot along the river hoping to see some water birds but not a one did I see. So I made a note not to watch the sunrise here again and drove on the the Mississippi Sandhill Crane refugee. The refugee is located about 20 miles from my hotel and I had to drive through another Gulf town , Gautier, to get there. It was another quaint little town which I hope to explore before I leave. I was soon at the entrance to the refugee.
I heard a lot of birds in the trees surrounding the parking lot. I saw some woodpeckers high in the tree tops of the many tall pine trees and a few chipping sparrows closer to the ground and in camera range.
There were no sandhill cranes , I read they are often seen here at the visitor center where there is a feeding station, I began a hike on the very well maintained and informative C. L. Dees Nature Trail.
I heard many birds singing in the tree tops, including the beautiful song of a Carolina wren but I couldn’t see or photograph them in the fog. Closer to the ground I found this spider on its web. It didn’t move as I got close and I think it was affected by the chilly morning temperatures.
As I continued my hike I came to a real amazing area along the trail. There were 100’s of carnivorous pitcher plants growing in the grasses under the pine trees.
I have read about these unique insect eating plants, and seen them in many botanical gardens on my travels, but I have never seen them in the native habitat. They were beautiful and amazing. They have adapted to allow insects to crawl or fall into their “pitcher” were hairs or bristles prevent them from crawling out. The plants then slowly digest the unfortunate insects. Nature is amazing.
and bird’s foot violets. I am relying on my iPhone Picture This app for these identifications so please comment and correct me if I am wrong. I saw many other wild flowers and there will be more photos in a gallery which I will link later.
The trail returned me to the visitor trail. I walked over to the Mississippi sand crane feeding station. Sadly , there were no birds there. I next decided to hike along the roads in the refugee. I am glad I did. As I walked along the tall pine trees on the entrance road I heard some commotion in the trees. Investigating the noise, I saw a pair of pileated woodpeckers feeding on some berries.
After my encounter with the pileated woodpeckers, I walked back to the C. L. Dees trail. The air was warming and so was the bird activity. I once again heard the Carolina wrens singing, and saw flocks of other small birds I couldn’t identify. I was able to see and photograph this yellow-bellied sapsucker,
I enjoyed watching it struggle with it’s prize possession. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike, Mississippi Day Two Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refugee. December 2 2021.
I did see a few butterflies on my last hike on the trail but no more birds and no Mississippi sandhill cranes. It was around 1o a.m. when I finished my hike and headed back to my hotel. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my morning hike, Mississippi Day Two. Sandhill crane refugee December 2021.
I returned to my room showered and had a great lunch at Brady’s Steak and Seafood House. . The food was awesome. I loved the seafood gumbo,
After lunch I actually relaxed at the pool for an hour I than edited some photos and was going to drive to the beach to look for shore birds and watch the sunset. However when I got in my SUV it didn’t start. Not good. My plans for the afternoon and evening changed. I was on the phone with my rental company, Hertz for quite a while. I wasn’t happy but these things happen I thought. Que sera sera. So making the best of the situation, I decided to explore the neighborhood while Hertz sent a mechanic.
I walked back to my hotel in the evening twilight, crossing the railroad tracks. I hear the trains almost every hour all night long in my hotel and I love it. I’ve always enjoyed hearing train horns. I traveled across Australia by train an enjoyed every minute of my three day trip. I have the best dreams on trains and also I learned on Wednesday, hearing them pass in the night.
I crossed over the busy highway grabbed dinner at a nearby deli. It was okay. I then waited for the mechanic. He got the car started but I had to drive it for a 1/2 hour to recharge the battery. This was not how I planned the end of my day. But it could be worse I thought , not knowing that it would, but more about that in my next blog. Here is a link to a gallery with some photos from my unplanned evening hike. Mississippi Day Two evening hike. December 2 2021.
“Never apologize for being over sensitive and emotional when defending the welfare of wildlife.
Let this be a sign that you have a big heart and aren’t afraid to show your true feelings.
These emotions give you the strength to fight for what is right and to be the voice of those who cannot be heard.”