Exploring the wildlife in style- tara style

Bill Seratt

April 18

Vicksburg is known throughout the country for the strategic role that it played in the Civil War.  People come from around the world to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park to learn about the defense and siege of Vicksburg.   It is, indeed, the cornerstone of our tourism economy.  In addition to the magnificent monuments that commemorate the Siege of Vicksburg, we along the mighty Mississippi are also blessed with a renowned abundance of birding and nature viewing opportunities.

The Southern hardwood forests of the lower Delta are legendary for hunting and fishing.  Our location on the Mississippi Flyway, a migration route that generally follows the Mississippi River in the United States and the McKenzie River in Canada, allows for some of the best bird watching opportunities in the country.  The main endpoints of the flyway include central Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.  The migration route tends to narrow considerably in the lower Mississippi River Valley which accounts for the high number of bird species charted in the region.  Typically birds use this route because no mountains or ridges block the path over its entire extent.  Good sources of water, food and cover exist over its entire length.  About 40% of all North American migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use this route.  Some birds use the flyway to migrate from the Arctic Ocean to Patagonia!

In just a few days, April 28 - 30, 2017, you will have the opportunity to experience nature viewing and birding in style at the Tara Wildlife Spring Birding Weekend.  The weekend is filled with woodland and birding tours, great food and evening socials at Tara Lodge.  You can book one night or two.  I have had the pleasure of attending this event, and believe me, it is one to remember.  Tara is equipped with open-air buses that will take you deep into their 9,000 acres of river bottom land.  The guides will help you identify a plethora of birds and forest creatures.

PaintedBunting-LMRCC2012

This year Tara has added an entertaining and educational new event featuring wildlife biologist Cathy Shropshire portraying pioneer conservationist Fannye A. Cook.  Cook was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, in 1889 in a time when women couldn’t vote, serve on juries and were considered generally unsuited for the serious business of politics and science.  Cook was the driving force behind the creation of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission – now known as the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.  She founded the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.  She further pioneered the creation of a system of wildlife management areas and the push to protect the Gulf of Mexico’s barrier islands.  Dr. Shropshire’s captivating portrayal both entertains and educates, in the spirit of the incredible Fannye Cook.

The mission of Tara Wildlife says it best:  “to manage its natural resources in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner while promoting conservation awareness and the wise use of those natural resources within a framework of both consumptive and non-consumptive  opportunities.”  Tara’s staff is dedicated to the mission and it shows in everything that they do.

You can go out for the day or can book a room for a night or for the weekend.  Tara is located 35 miles north of Vicksburg.  The schedule for the weekend can be found on our event calendar.