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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Well Worth The Trip

Bob Sargent (center) enthralls allBarbara and I slipped away, recently, to enjoy something of a Nature walk. After parking our vehicle in a bottomland meadow, we made our way to a forested trail that meandered gently up a small hill. The canopy of half-century to century-old trees held undergrowth to a minimum.
Additionally, the walking path was padded with decaying wood chips and care had been taken to remove any branches of saplings to enable one to walk unhindered by Nature while enjoying all things natural along the trail.

After hiking about a quarter of a mile, we came to an opening where hundreds of others had gathered under canopies both natural and manmade to celebrate a remarkable event, the fall migration of thousands of hummingbirds. We were at the Strawberry Plains Audobon Center near Holly Springs, Mississippi, to enjoy the annual Holly Springs Hummingbird Festival. Once the property of Ruth and Thomas Finley, their daughters willed the 2,500 acre estate to the Audubon Society which has transformed the land into a paradise for naturalists and lovers of Nature.

The presence of hummingbirds may be the most celebrated and visible manifestation of the work of the Audubon Society, but the abundance of native plants provide habitat for more than 200 species of birds (source http://www.msaudubon.org/hummingbird08.php) Additionally, there are more than fourteen miles of walking/ hiking trails at the Center.

Barbara and I only stayed a couple of hours, but could have stayed a full day had time permitted. We listened to Bob Sargent explain hummingbirds to an audience surrounding him as he held a hummingbird in his hand and interacted with the group. Nearby, others demonstrated how captured birds were weighed, measured, and banded, before being released. A few lucky bystanders were privileged to release the banded hummingbirds.

I could not interest Barbara in attending the lectures on bats, snakes and raptors, but she and I enjoyed visiting the booths of vendors, where we window-shopped Nature prints, paintings, and bird feeders. We did make our way into the Davis house, the Antebellum home restored by Margaret Finley Shackelford, where the first floor was partially opened to allow visitors to enjoy the view from the sun porch of scores of hummingbirds feeding in the flower garden and enjoying the sugar-water in a multiple feeders.

We plan to allow more time to enjoy next year’s Hummingbird Festival, and next year I’m sure we’ll have our grandchildren and our daughter and son-in-law with us.

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About Me

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I'm a native of Pontotoc, MS, and graduated Pontotoc High School in 1960. I received a BS degree in Mathematics from The University of Mississippi in 1965. My wife Barbara and I have two children and five grandchildren and one great grandchild. We make our home in Pontotoc.