Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | February 5, 2011

Day 1: Birds, oysters and new friends Gulf Coast style

I arrived into Gulfport,MS today. I wasn’t, quite sure what to expect as far as fallout from the BP oil spill, but as we approached low over the Gulf for landing, I saw what I perceived as very small slicks, almost the typical sight over any heavily trafficked waterway.

flying over Gulfport

Landing in Mississippi made this state #41 that I have visited. By the time I picked up my pretty blue Toyota Yaris from the Car rental place, the realization set in…. I made it!

I now had to make my way over to Bayou LaBatre, AL (state #42) for a date with the Coastal Birding Association. I arrived a little early and wandered in this small but pretty typical southern coastal town. I headed down to where the shellfishing and shrimping boats dock and got amazing looks at Brown Pelicans. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

My first Brown Pelican for the trip (not my life pelican though)

After enjoying lunch (fried oysters, fried pickles and fried okra with a tall glass of sweet tea,) I headed over to the meeting spot and was soon welcomed with open arms.

I read the welcome sign that informed me that Bayou LaBatre is the seafood capital of Alabama but a gentleman on the birding trip, Jimmy, informed me is referenced in the movie as Forrest Gump’s hometown.

On the way to a sparrow stomp (that I turned back from, because my feet were not appropriately attired,) I discovered the joys of fire ants. Apparently, in the middle of a pitcher plant bog, I stepped in a fire ant mound, and uh-oh, LITERALLY, ants in my pants. The thing with them… once one bites, it emits a pheromone, and they all start biting! The bites fill with pus before they open and start healing-  just one more checkmark for my entomologic life list.  🙄

We birded Grand Bay Savannah and saw:

Everyone on the trip was so nice to me and so welcoming… Chazz (the trip leader) and his wife even insisted on putting me up for the night when they heard I hadn’t made any hotel reservations. Another friendly couple, Tom and his wife Joan offered to show me Dauphin Island tomorrow (the top birding spot in AL.) Just goes to show you what pure-hearted people birders are. (cue the owl, Pete Dunne.)

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