Sunday, January 29, 2012
Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWF
The sun was just beginning to peek in and around the pines of Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWF near Gautier, MS on Saturday morning.
A light fog shadowed the lower elevations as we got ready for our refuge tour. As Judy went about the business of getting a vehicle for us, we wandered around the visitor center. A very nice place to learn a lot of things about the birds and their plight. Beautiful diorama’s and lots of displays.
But nothing beats having a great personal guide. Talk about someone with the gifts to do a job and the willingness to do it joyfully. Judy loves her work, and it shows. And talk about “eyes like an eagle”! She has them. She constantly was the first to see everything. Hawk, here; Coot, there; See that Harrier?
It wasn’t long before we found our first pair. We took a number of pictures, but it was only after reading Judy’s post that I realized we were watching the unique Crossbill.
We drove up on a group of juvenile's, which took wing immediately.
Overall, we saw 19 of the 130, or so, Mississippi Sandhill Cranes on the face of the Earth. Pretty good percentage. It is hard to comprehend that these are all there are. In the 1970’s, only around 30 still lived. It’s great to see the numbers slowly increasing.
Prime Crane habitat. Kept that way with controlled burns and timber management.
We also saw this active Bald Eagle nest. Mom, or Pop, was watching over things from a nearby tree.
We had a fantastic time. All the information on the refuge and the birds themselves was really eye opening. It was made all the more better by Judy.
If you have the opportunity to visit the refuge, do it. And, if you have the opportunity to visit any refuge Judy and Emma are volunteering at, you are in for a special treat…….jc