St. Catherine Creek to host bird watch

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 29, 2011

NATCHEZ — Bird watching enthusiasts, hikers or anyone that just likes to get out and explore nature will have a sanctuary at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge at 8 a.m. June 11.

St. Catherine Creek will be hosting its annual celebration of National Migratory Birds Day and National Trails Day with guided walking tours, guided canoe tours and children’s activities.

“We always look forward to getting people out on the refuge,” Wildlife Refuge project leader Bob Strader said. “(The refuge) is pretty under-utilized by people that don’t hunt or fish, but it’s getting better with birding and hiking.”

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Strader said that the refuge sees up to 250 different bird species each year, and if the bird watchers work hard on June 11 they may be able to see 50 to 60 of those.

For the younger guests, who may not be interested in bird watching, the refuge will have a pond discovery, where kids can explore the pond with nets and examine water samples under microscopes to see all the living organisms in the water. The children will also be able to build blue bird boxes and explore the children’s hiking trail that features several different animal-related activities, Strader said.

Strader said there would be five or six members of the staff that will be able to lead the bird watching hikes. John Fontenot, biologist at Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge, will lead the canoe trip.

The bird watching hikes will start at 8 a.m. and the canoe trip will begin at 10 a.m. Activities will last until noon.

Strader said anyone interested in borrowing a canoe from the refuge should call for a reservation because the supply is limited.

“(Guests) are welcome to go out on their own and bring their own canoes, but (we only have) 16 canoes, so if they want to reserve one the need to call (ahead),” Strader said. “Last spring we had a waiting list to get a canoe.”

Strader said they had approximately 70 guests at last year’s event.

He said the event has activities for all ages and it is definitely designed for families. There is no charge to attend.

“The main thing is we hope a lot of people will come,” Strader said.

Strader said this is one of only two or three major events the refuge will host this year. He said they used to have monthly events but have since cut down on that number.

Strader said the Mississippi River flood would not affect the day’s festivities.

“(It just means) we won’t have to go so far to put the canoes in the water,” he said.

Anyone interested in using a canoe on loan from the refuge or other information on the event should call the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge at 601-442-6696.