Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Elusiveness of the Sandhill Crane

Today we started out planning to have an easy day, but we wound up finding a cool little park down on the coast so it turned out to be a pretty full day. The only thing on our docket for the day, initially, was a visit to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was established to help prevent the extinction of this wonderful bird. At one point, there was only a flock of thirty left in existence, but now there are about one hundred. Still not a huge number so, not surprisingly, we were unable to see any in the wild. Hence, these photographs from the dioramas in the visitor center. We were able, however, to do some hiking through a portion of the beautiful savannas that are their natural habitat. It was a beautiful mostly sunny day in the 60Fs, so it was great to be outdoors.

The Sandhill Crane is not migratory so the destruction of
its habitat is a death sentence.

They only lay two eggs per gestation and only one usually survives
so their birth rate is pretty low. Babies of every species are just
too damn cute.

Most of the preserve is comprised of these grasslands that
are sparsely populated with longleaf pines. Everywhere the
Astrals go, there's nobody there. Maybe we should take the
hint. This place was very tranquil and it was a great day for
a quiet walk in the woods.

Here's Astral Wendy posing on a woodland divan.

As you can see, the savanna was ginormous. I have to believe
there's a Sandhill Crane in there somewhere but, with only 100
of them in existence, I guess the sightings are rare.

The Castille Bayou runs through part of the preserve. 

Ghostly silver trees dot portions of the landscape.

Even though it's winter, there are still sprays of green here and there.
I suspect this place is beautiful in the spring and summer when the
wildflowers are in bloom.

This is another section of the Castille Bayou. We're pretty close
to Louisiana (about 100 miles east of 'Nawlins) so the term 'bayou' is 
used here too.

Roots need love too.

A little 'found' art. These pieces of glass and the leaf
were just sitting on the picnic table at the visitor center.
Nice eye Astral Wendy!

After we left the Wildlife Refuge, we decided to head back into Ocean Springs to grab a little lunch. We found this fabulous little cafe not far from the center of town called the Maison de Lu. (They don't have their own web presence so the link goes to urbanspoon). Highly recommended by the Astral Nomads for killer gourmet sandwiches. 

I had the Havanna Press, which was a variant of the standard Cuban sandwich, substituting coleslaw for the roast pork and pressed on a delightful light ciabatta bread. Wendy had a pressed sandwich on the same bread with ham, brie, and hot pepper jelly. This was the best sandwich I've had in a long. long time. Wendy was pretty ecstatic about hers too. (She got pretty close to eating her crusts, which she hardly ever does.)

After lunch, I checked google maps on my phone to see if there was a waterfront park in Ocean Springs and, lo! and behold!, we discovered the Fort Maurepas State Park. I guess I had forgotten that this area was controlled by the French at one time. They built a fort here in 1699, using it as a base before establishing Mobile, Alabama. This was a nice little coastal park with a pier extending out a couple of hundred yards in the shallow gulf waters. It also provided a nice view of the Causeway to Heaven (see yesterday's post) and the Biloxi skyline as well as vistas of some offshore barrier islands.

I have to say that, with the possible exception of New Smyrna Beach Florida (which we both love), Ocean Springs, Mississippi is about my favorite place that we've visited. I can easily imagine living here. It's got a bit of a arty vibe, a slow pace, and easy access to the coast. I say this being totally ignorant of the real estate values. How much could a shack within walking distance to the beach possibly be? Ha!

We passed a small marina on the way back where these gulls
were chillin'

Oh, BTW, we did see a crane too. Just not a Mississippi Sandhill

Tomorrow we're heading over to LaPlace. Lousiana, which we plan to use as a base camp in order to explore some of the antebellum mansions along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Big Easy. After that, not sure where we're heading next. Need to check the weather forecast and then we'll make an Astral decision. Wendy took a lot of great photos over the last few days so she'll probably post a photo blog tomorrow before we check out so you can enjoy the shots without all this of blathering.


  1. I know the sandhill cranes are slowly coming back from the brink. Nice to see!

  2. Slowly but surely Debra.... they are glorious creatures!

  3. 'Born on a Bayou' by CCR comes to mind.