Monday, March 24, 2008

Wildlife Weekend Washout

Since becoming part of the Nature Blog Network, I have become quite fond of a handful of sites from all over the world. One in particular is the World Bird Sanctuary. If you haven't been, check it out. They have pictures & videos of all sorts of birds from around the world. Some featured recently have been Eagle Owls & newborns, Barn Owls & newborns, and many, many more. They have something to teach/share with us almost every day. I've learned so much in just a few weeks from this site. They are located near St. Louis MO., and since I was headed in that direction this weekend, I was going to stop by and see the place for myself.
Cuttidad and I went on an adventure this weekend, going to the largest state park in Illinois called Pere Marquette State Park, and were staying in a cabin on the grounds. It is located near the town of Grafton, IL, which is located just a few miles shy of Missouri. The drive would take us about 4 hours. From their website, it looked as if we would see plenty of migrating birds because there are migrating stations all over the place down there, but... more on that later...
The drive to the Sanctuary was just another 60 miles off our original path, so we headed out into the wild expressways surrounding St. Louis on our 2nd day of stay. We came within a mile of our exit ramp, and the traffic came to a halt. We saw cars putting their cars in reverse, and driving back up the off ramps. Hmmm...must be an accident. We have just another 1/2 mile to go, so we can wait it out. As we crept up to our ramp, we discover it is closed, but we don't know why.....yet. We still figure we can detour back and find our way. Then the scene exploded. We had heard about the flooding in Missouri, but our drive from Morris Il all the way to Alton Il along the Mississippi led us to believe that it all had receded. We didn't see much devastating flooding at all....until now! It was the Meramec River that was causing all of the havoc!

We knew, after witnessing this scene, that we would not get to the Sanctuary. We wondered if they had to evacuate, given its proximity to this devastation. We saw on the news that houses were taken by the flood. We saw a house hit an overpass and it shaved its roof off, not that it wasn't already lost. We wondered if all the good the sanctuary was doing for the birds, was lost. We prayed they had time to relocate. When I got back home, I logged onto their site, and found them to be o.k. They relocated, all was well with their birds, and they have some very interesting video of the horrible weekend.
I just wanted to stop in, say hi, & see some of the birds in person, since meeting them on video. Oh well, I'm just glad everything turned out o.k. Maybe next time I am in the area, I will get the chance to meet their extraordinary creatures, and meet the staff that take such good care of them.

In Grafton IL, along the Mississippi river, you can find plenty of public launches. This one in particular had a lighthouse replica, which looked somewhat interesting, so I waited for a gull to fly near. This day was the only time we saw sunshine.

We drove a few miles more to cross the Mississippi River to Missouri over this bridge to a migration station on the other side of the river.

The only migraters we found the whole trip were American White Pelicans.

The Pere Marquette State Park was very big. The lodge was beautiful. The cabin we stayed in had 3 separate rooms, and upon inspection, looked quite nice. Looks were very deceiving...The toilet tank overflowed, because the float didn't float. The bed was the most rickety thing I have ever tried to sleep on. Imagine sleeping on a bed suspended by chains, and the movement that might have. Horrible! The pillows were like wood. I still (Tuesday) have a very sore neck. Our cabin was next to a utility closet, which caused all kinds of noise. A constant high pitched hum was the most annoying. Someone from another cabin taking a shower at 5 in the morning was another eyeopener. All in all, I would never stay there again, which is sad, because the revenue goes to the state and the grounds. Oh well, we can't be lucky all of the time...The trip was a bust, we didn't see much, but we spent $2.99 a gallon/gas in Missouri, verses $3.25 on the Illinois side. Our only perk, but it took a tankful to get back home. I kinda felt like Charlie Brown all weekend.


World Bird Sanctuary said...

Sorry to have missed you at the sanctuary! Maybe when you visit again you would like do a guest post for our blog?

We did evacuate, but it all worked out for us. Some of our neighbors weren't so lucky.

These pictures are fabulous. I love the pelicans. And, well, you don't get to see a flood like that every day...though being stuck in traffic is not much fun. Do come back for a visit. We'll try to dry things off next time. ;-)

McGone said...

I love that bridge! Was that in Grafton?

Hannibal said...

@McGone: The bridge is called Clark Bridge which connects Illinois and Missouri, and the towns on both sides are Alton, IL, and West Alton, MO. Grafton was about 10 miles north along the Miss. River.

@WBS: I am hoping to come back for fall migration and would love to guest blog! Thanx!