Birder tourism potential high in South Mississippi

Birder tourism potential high in South Mississippi
The website list more than 40 areas to bird watch. (Photo source: WLOX)
The website list more than 40 areas to bird watch. (Photo source: WLOX)

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Birders can be seen peering through a pair of binoculars, or pointing a camera lens to the trees.

They are a unique community of individuals who sometimes travel the country in search of chances at spotting feathered friends in their natural habitat.

A largely untapped tourist base on the Mississippi Coast, new efforts are helping to put the area on the birding map. One effort is the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail website.

"We put it electronic. You can get it on your smartphone, you can get it on your tablet. It invites people and tells people where to go birding," said Dr. Mark LaSalle, director of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center

LaSalle believes the more Coastwide cooperation, the better.

"It's not about one sector of tourism competing with the other. It's about partnering with all sectors of tourism. That's why we want the small businesses to know what we're doing so they can help us," said LaSalle.

One of the small businesses working to bring in more birders is the Indian Point RV Park in Gautier. Owner James Lee has been working with city leaders to make his property birder friendly by making the area more attractive to birds and the birders themselves.

The property now houses several bird blinds that act as the perfect shelter for birders. There are also different bird habitats scattered throughout the RV park, and a couple of landings right on the water for easy viewing of the surrounding bayou and marsh.

It looks like the hard work is paying off. People like Pamela Rupert are starting to make regular visits to the park just to watch and photograph birds.

"You just never know what you're going to see when you come, and it's very peaceful," said Rupert.

Rupert got her photographer friend, Sam King, to come down from Madison to check out the birding potential.

"You have a perfect opportunity here to make something national, I would think, that would bring bird watchers from everywhere," said King.

The Coastal Birding Trail website lists more than 40 hotspots for birdwatching in the six coastal counties.

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