Birds, Birds Everywhere…
A giddy newcomer and seasoned bird-watcher finds a wildlife bonanza here on the Gulf Coast.
- story by Dena Temple
Black Skimmer feeds by dragging its lower mandible through the water, trolling for fish.
“Tu-a-wee!” A flock of Eastern Bluebirds frolicked in the front yard.
Yes, we are birders. Bird-brains. Bird nerds! In fact, our fascination with feathered fauna helped drive our southern migration. And as birders, we weren’t looking for a home so much as a “habitat.”
The pretty brick house on the tracks in Waveland fit the bill perfectly – lots of land bordered by dense woods, near a bayou. We signed the papers just before Thanksgiving, and by Turkey Day we were unpacking our binoculars and setting up feeding stations.
We’re also a little competitive. And by “little,” I mean very. We compete with other bird nerds to see how many species of birds we can ID in our yards. We re-started our 2018 list when we moved to Waveland – and by the time the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, our list stood at an astounding 52 species. In five weeks!
While all seasons along the Coast provide excellent opportunities for wildlife-watching, perhaps the best kept secret is the diversity here in the winter.
Joining the resident species of the Gulf are thousands of birds that spend their summers breeding farther north. As lakes and bays freeze over, species that rely on aquatic habitat are forced to head south.
In addition, land birds that eat insects must migrate to follow the food source. So, while spring and fall offer the best variety because of the migratory birds passing along the Mississippi Flyway, winter birding delights savvy Gulf Coast residents who are “in the know.”
Gulls, terns and particularly shorebirds flock to the Gulf beaches, much like our snowbirds do, for the Gulf’s agreeable climate and excellent dining. Everyone eats seafood along the Coast!
Ducks, too, migrate south for the winter. Many only go as far as necessary to find unfrozen water, so they can find food. Some, however, make their way to our coastline and local ponds.
Commonly seen from our beaches are Bufflehead, tiny black ducks with white bonnet-like caps, and Common Loons, looking drab in their “basic” winter plumage.
One of my favorite places to look for birds is the Washington Street Pier in Bay St. Louis. What makes any location excellent for birds is habitat diversity, and this spot has it.
Along the beach you’ll see lots of terns, gulls and shorebirds. Try to pick out the Willet, a large shorebird with drab, brown plumage – until he flies, revealing a distinctive and brilliant white wing stripe.
Walking to the end of the pier, scan the water for the aforementioned ducks, along with Horned Grebes, which are common in the Sound in the winter, and Red-breasted Mergansers, ducks with a distinctive dagger-like bill.
Next, scan the rocks at the pier for Ruddy Turnstone, a medium-sized shorebird with orange legs and an unusually patterned chest. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and spot a Purple Sandpiper in the rocks, a rare visitor from the North.
While you’re out there, scan the distant skies for the beautiful white Northern Gannett, a large, graceful booby-like bird that nests on island cliffs but spends its entire winter over the water.
Back on land, patiently check the dune grass for birds like Marsh Wren, sparrows and Scaly-breasted Munia, a non-native, pet-shop escapee that has been spotted here recently.
There are many places along the Gulf Coast where beginners and pros alike can enjoy looking at, and learning about, birds.
A great source is the Mississippi Coast Audubon Society, which hosts mostly free field trips to various locations in the area. Attending one of these trips is a great way to meet like-minded people, increase your local knowledge, and learn about conservation and habitat protection.
If you’d rather strike out on your own, you can find information on the website for the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail . The website identifies more than 40 prime birding locations in the six southern counties of Mississippi. It’s a great resource, and I’ll be working my way through that list myself.
If you are the type who likes to volunteer, there are opportunities through both MCAS and the National Audubon Society for winter shorebird monitoring.
Also coming up February 15-19 is the Great Backyard Bird Count, which encourages individuals to count birds in their own backyards (or a local park or hotspot), then report your findings online through a special website, www.birdsource.org. The event is held over Presidents Day weekend, which may give you an extra day to venture out and enjoy what our area has to offer.
Arts Alive - Aug/Sept 2017
Get to know the very savvy businesswoman behind the glitter, the tutus, and the multiple tiaras - a design diva who never stops evolving.
- story by Trish McAlvain
Most know her as the hostess of her own series, the internet sensation “MS Congeniality.” Jaimee started “MS Congeniality” with a mission to defy the image of the typical Mississippian. Every Wednesday another webisode is released. It is a fresh, spunky spin of life in the state, always filmed live with Jaimee interviewing fascinating people living and doing cool things.
In 2017, Mississippi celebrates 200 years of statehood. Jaimee is the face of "Miss Issippi" as Mississippi Bicentennial Hostess. Miss Issippi was a character drawn up in 1917 to represent Mississippi during the state's 100th birthday celebration. Although the centennial festivities were ultimately canceled because of the First World War, Miss Issippi still paraded around the state in costume.
When state bicentennial historians gathered to speak of the mascot chosen 100 years ago, it was decided to have an updated version. Who better to fill those shoes than MS Congeniality? Everyone agreed that Jaimee was the perfect choice.
Jaimee hopes to always be completely approachable to the public in her role as Miss Issippi. "Ask me anything, I'll tell the truth. I hope I don't intimidate you.
She comes by her titles naturally. Jaimee was born in Bay St. Louis to Dottie and Daniel Goad, who are celebrating 43 years of marriage and who still reside on the coast. Her mother has always been a stay-at-home mom, while her father is a NASA rocket scientist. When she was young, Daniel instilled the importance of education when he would often stay up late teaching her chemistry and physics.
Dottie’s love of painting brought the artsy side to the mix. This mixture of science and art makes Jaimee a one-of-a-kind artist with an analytical style of thinking. She says she uses her brain to make decisions, not her heart.
Jaimee spent two years studying organic chemistry in college and made straight A's. However, she was never concerned with exact numbers enough to see this being her profession. She was the student who was a little too theatrical during class and had thoughts of something else in her future.
Her sister Michelle lives in Hawaii. She is Jaimee's best friend, and is a graphic designer and a wonderful belly dancer. Brother Gary Goad is a well-known local electrician here on the Gulf Coast.
As part of the graduating class of 1999 at Long Beach High School, Jaimee always enjoyed seeking the spotlight, first as a cheerleader and a singer. As a high school participant in the international exchange program in 1998, she traveled to Brazil. All she learned abroad helped to broaden her dynamics. Jaimee says, “In spirit, everyone knew me as Miss Brazil."
Jaimee has drawn strength from her husband Joel who has helped her appreciate the "typical Mississippian." Joel helped her to see that "we judge ourselves on how others judge us," she says.
This Hancock county couple lives by the simple belief that it is most important to pride ourselves on our strengths.
"He is a fishing bayou rat," says Jaimee when she speaks fondly of her husband. “It took me 30 years to appreciate the ‘good ol' boy’-style man. Learning that who cares what people think? It's about how you feel."
"Joel knows how to treat me; he is a Southern gentleman, a provider for his family; he hustles as a businessman, and is an overall hard worker with strengths of the manly Mississippi man.”
This is symbolic to Jaimee and instills state pride in her adventures and portrayal as Miss Issippi and MS Congeniality.
This busy couple are both in their thirties and are successful local business owners. Jaimee is celebrating a 10-year anniversary of Jaimee Designs Web Studio, located in Bay St. Louis. Joel has over 13 years invested in his local commercial and residential electrician business as contractor/owner of Dorris Electric Services of Bay St Louis.
Jaimee has been a member of the Rotary Club since 2013. She enjoyed helping fellow Rotarians to get the International Youth Exchange off the ground for Hancock County. Jaimee is fond of the program, knowing the attributes it created in her own experiences as an exchange student.
"I work for myself to give time for a clean, peaceful overall feeling for my family." Joel and Jaimee Dorris are celebrating their three-year wedding anniversary. They stay active with five children, ranging from ages 10 to 21 with Joel's kids from a previous marriage and Jaimee's biological son Micah (who can be spotted as boom mic operator and assistant in “MS Congeniality”).
"I want to be that 90-year-old lady who is comfortable with me—always subject to change, to be even more fabulous!" Constant change is a significant happening within Jaimee's life. "One day I'm eating meat; then one day I'm a vegetarian. That adds to my art element." This year she is excited to see a major transition bridging the family businesses together.
Jaimee is eager to share and lives by her own advice. "Each person's mission is different than everyone else. Inspired ideas are most important. The thing is to listen to your intuition. Oftentimes you must find your own way by listening to yourself.
"Everyone has their own path. Get to know yourself, what you do well. Sometimes, it is something special. Always trust who you are, naturally."
Tourism Talk - November 2016
Be A Tourist in Your Own Community, part V
Over the past few months the Hancock County Tourism Bureau has been highlighting our communities and some of the unique activities for visitors and also locals. This month we feature our final town, Bay St. Louis.
- photography by Ellis Anderson
The Bay of St. Louis was named in 1699 by the explorer Bienville because his expedition came upon the bay on the feast day of St. Louis. The town itself, originally a village called Shieldsboro, took on the name of Bay St. Louis eventually and became the county seat of Hancock County.
The Bay, as it’s called by locals, is known for its quaint style and hometown feel that many say brings the fictional town of Mayberry to mind. But Bay St. Louis has many other sides to its appeal. It has been voted in recent years among the top Coolest Small Towns and Charming Small Towns in the U.S. as well as the Best Small Art Community. Below, you'll find some of the reasons Bay St. Louis has earned those and other honors.
Bridge, Beach and Angels:
Pull out those mittens because snowflakes are back in the Bay. Events started on November 20th with the second annual Waveland Christmas Bazaar and ends with New Years Eve at the 100 Men Hall. (For more details go to www.mswestcoast.org and click on Snowflakes brochure.) Five thousand brochures were distributed throughout the state to promote Hancock County Holiday events.
The Tourism Bureau is delighted to host the 8th Annual Christmas Parade and Snowflakes & Sugarplums Festival December 5th. The Christmas parade begins at 11 a.m. in Old Town Bay St. Louis. Parade stages on Necaise Avenue, heads down Main Street to Beach Boulevard, Court Street, 2nd Avenue, Union Street, and ends at the depot. Rudie the Reindeer will lead the parade in a red convertible, and Santa ends it on his sleigh. Also fire trucks, classic cars, marching bands, and floats. Miss Hospitality Bay St. Louis will be the Grand Marshal. Parade ends at the depot with Snowflakes & Sugarplums Festival, 12-5pm.
Festival-goers will notice the new Alice Moseley Pavilion on the grounds of the depot during the event. Last month Hancock Tourism hosted a reception for honored guests and visitors who attended the dedication. The pavilion is part of an on-going effort by the Friends of Alice Moseley Museum to honor both Miss Alice and the city.
Tourism Tidbits - November 2015
Cruisin' With A Twist!
- by Latonja Ervin, photos by Ellis Anderson
These events were advertised on radio and TV by the Hancock County Tourism Bureau with a grant from Visit Mississippi.
We kicked off October with a live broadcast of WGNO’s “News with a Twist.” This broadcast covered the greater New Orleans area and south Louisiana. The show aired live at the Bay St. Louis Train Depot on October 7 after the production crew spent several weeks filming highlights of Bay St. Louis attractions. Some of the highlights were dining on the bay overlooking our award-winning municipal harbor, inspiring art in St. Rose Church, and charter fishing in the bay.
This event was sponsored by the Hancock County Tourism Bureau through a grant from BP.
This annual event brings over seven thousand cars to the area and generates revenue for gas stations, restaurants, retail business and car repair shops. This year’s event broke the record with over 7,600 cars. We can’t wait to top the record next year!
Bay St. Louis events were sponsored by the Hancock County Tourism Bureau and Cruisin’ the Coast.
Next we look forward to the holiday season with the Christmas parade on December 5. The parade will take you on a magical holiday ride though all the snowflakes in Old Town Bay St. Louis, ending in the Depot District with the “Snowflakes and Sugarplums” festival. The fest will be from noon–5 p.m. and will feature holiday music, Santa Claus and live music by Roman Street. For more details go to www.mswestcoast.org, on the Cleaver Community Calendar page - and on the Cleaver's Upcoming Events page!
Across The Bridge
At Home In The Bay
Beach To Bayou
BSL Council Updates
Casting My Net
Coast Lines Column
Friends Of The Animal Shelter
Growing Up Downtown
House And Garden
Legends And Legacies
Mother Of Pearl
Murphy's Musical Notes
Old Town Merchants
On The Shoofly
Shore Thing Fishing Report
Talk Of The Town
The Eyes Have It