Sunday, May 19, 2013
Dauphin Island & Natchez Trace
On May 7th we crossed Mobile Bay on the ferry to Dauphin Island, Alabama. As we started to explore the island we saw Scarlet Tanagers covering the ground. This looked like a true "fall out" as the birds were so exhausted from crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
Along with these were Summer Tanagers, Blue & Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and flocks of Indigo Buntings (pictured) and much more, so close you could walk right up to them.
We were blessed with a campsite adjacent to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and the trees were dripping with birds. We had four species of thrushes (Veery, Gray-cheeked, Wood & Swainson's) (to the left) in the largest concentration we have ever experienced.
We had very diverse birds from Bobolink & Dickcissels to Sora Rail in the wet grass. On the trails we had 12 species of warblers - totaled 92 species for the day and a half we were there.
Several times we walked to Fort Gaines Historical Site, the dock area, sand dunes and beach and the trails of the bird sanctuary. These Blue Grosbeaks were resting and feeding on the lawn by the fort.
We traveled into Mississippi, first stop the Paul B. Johnson State Park south of Hattiesburg. (No, we didn't stop in to see Brett Favre cutting his lawn.)
Out of the 50 species of birds in the park, the Summer Tanagers were very vocal like this young male molting into adult plumage.
We drove west to access the Natchez Trace Parkway, over 400 miles of meandering "rustic road" taking us through hardwood forest (oak, maple, beech, hickory, tulip and sweet gum), cypress & tupelo swamps (pictured to right) and a patchwork of prairies.
We slowly moved up the Trace stopping at each historical marker, nature trail, and overlook. We learned about Mississippi's history of the Indian Tribes, the first settlers and the Civil War.
Our trail walks provided many viewing and photo opportunities like this big Bull Frog. We found the Swainson's Warbler (a rare target bird), a cross fox, skunk, Mississippi Kites and a Cottonmouth the hid from the camera under the water.
We traveled about 50 miles each day camping at State Parks (Natchez, Ratliff Ferry, Tombigbee and Tishomingo) We were very happy with warbler migration finding 23 species including this beautiful Prothonotary. It's fun to see and hear all the Hooded, Canada, Worm-eating, Kentucky and Yellow-throated Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes and Yellow-breasted Chats.
The Trace crosses a corner of NW Alabama and into central Tennessee. We stayed at David Crockett State Park known for their fine turkeys. This Tom is strutting his stuff trying to impress the hens.
This 5-lined Skink (immature has the blue tail) was found on one of our hikes.
May 13th marked 2 years "On the Road" driving 44,000+ miles, 30 states and 8 Canadian Provinces seeing 628 bird species.
Wanting to continue our successful birding adventure we thought we couldn't go wrong by staying at Birdsong RV Park on Kentucky Lake next to the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. This Brown Thrasher welcomed us to the park with his melodious Bird Song.
Bye "you all" (pronounced with a Nashville twang)
Blessing, Ty & Ida