Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Along the Gulf Coast

On this cool, cloudy, misty morning, we started the day by taking a walk along Long Beach, west of Gulf Port, Mississippi.  Gulls, black skimmers and shorebirds were abundant, joined by modest numbers of brown pelicans and double-crested cormorants.

Our next stop was at the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Coastal Resources Center, just west of the Alabama line.  The refuge has three relatively short trails, including one that winds across a wet pine savanna, an ecosystem that covered most of the Gulf Coastal Plain before European settlers arrived.  The Center, free to the public, houses displays that illustrate the varied ecosystems of the northern Gulf Coast.  

Our final stop was at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs.  While the refuge title is somewhat misleading (there are no beaches), the visitor center offered an interesting introduction to the wildlife and habitats of the barrier islands and coastal marshes.  A few short hikes also provided scenic views of those landscapes.  Tomorrow, we will travel westward along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and likely visit a Coastal Plain refuge or two.