Sightings April 2019 – August 2019

April 2019

  • 4/3- Large white tailed deer (2); Male painted bunting
  • 4/12- Blue-gray gnat catcher
  • 4/16- Glass lizard
  • 4/19- Yellow colicroot
  • 4/24- Rose orchid/pogonia; wild onion/garlic

May 2019

  • 5/1- Large bald eagle
  • 5/7- Red-headed woodpecker
  • 5/8- Gulf Coast box turtles (4)
  • 5/16- Large white tailed deer
  • 5/20- Baby box turtle
  • 5/24- Green anole
  • 5/30- Fox squirrel

June 2019

  • 6/10- American alligator
  • 6/12- Southern flying squirrel
  • 6/26- Gopher tortoise
  • 6/27- Bobwhite quail

August 2019

  • 8/12- Tripletail (5)
  • 8/13- Large whitetail deer

We’re looking for volunteers for fall 2019!

It’s already gearing up to be a busy fall at the Grand Bay NERR. Earlier this summer we celebrated our 20th year as a Reserve with an open house for guests.

To continue the celebration, our National Estuaries Day event will have even more fun for the family! In addition to our usual “Seaside with the Scientists” event where guests meet our scientists in the estuary by boat, we’ll have exhibitors from other science institutions, activities in and around the Coastal Resources Center, and even cake! This is where we need your help to volunteer to make this event run as smoothly and safely as possible. Various indoor and outdoor opportunities are available, so let us know if you’re interested in helping with this event. 

November for our staff is a little bit busier than usual this year with many awesome events on the Gulf Coast. We’re looking for booth volunteers to pair up with a staff member for a shift at the Peter Anderson Festival in Ocean Springs, MS. These will occur on both days of the festival in four-hour shifts (8 am -12 pm, 12 pm – 4 pm), so take your pick! You’ll also be able to take a break and look around at the festival. 

Our annual Star Party in December is already gearing up for the planning process, and we’re starting to recruit for volunteers to help out with this fun event! Themed around the Geminid Meteor Shower, we’ll have NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors to guide the stargazing and presentations. Of course, we’ll have some festive activities too, and volunteers are encouraged to wear tacky sweaters. As a Star Party volunteer, you may be helping with with some activities in the building, assisting with stargazing, or helping out with tours on the boardwalk looking for screech owls. 

Interested in these activities? Just reply or email for more information. We appreciate your help!

Sightings December 2018-March 2019

December 2018

  • 12/11- Cricket frogs
  • 12/14- American robin
  • 12/15- Santa Claus
  • 12/17- White tailed deer (3)

February 2019

  • 2/5- Purple martin scout
  • 2/7- Osprey in nest
  • 2/22- Azaleas
  • 2/27- Large bald eagle at Hawks Marsh

March 2019

  • 3/4- Red tailed hawk; Pygmy rattlesnake
  • 3/7- Yellow-bellied sapsucker; swallowtail; 2 ospreys in nest
  • 3/13- Male osprey catching fish in Hawks marsh (perched on branch eating fish); Large female bald eagle sitting on nest across other side of Hawks Marsh
  • 3/14- Banded water snake
  • 3/15- Purple martins; large raccoon on boardwalk
  • 3/19- Garter snake; black racer snake

Sightings June 2018- September 2018


  • 6/6- Female diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
  • 6/15- Pig frog call (Lithobates grylio)


  • 7/10- Large alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • 7/10- Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
  • 7/20- Box turtle- (Terrapene carolina)


  • 8/20 and 8/21- Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)
  • 8/23- Feral hog (Sus scrofa)
  • 8/31- Banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata)


  • 9/18- White pelicans, ruby-throated hummingbirds

Sightings November 2017-May 2018

November 2017

  • 11/7 – Long Tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
  • 11/8 – Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
  • 11/16 – White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  • 11/16 – Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • 11/21 – Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • 11/21 – Eastern Mud Turtle (2) (Kinosternon subrubrum)
  • 11/21 – Black Racer (Coluber constrictor)

December 2017

  • 12/6 – Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)
  • 12/6 – Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)
  • 12/11 – American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  • 12/14 – Coyotes (2) (Canis latrans)
  • 12/19 – White-tailed Deer (3) (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • 12/20 – Barred Owl (Strix varia)
  • 12/26 – Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

January 2018 

  • 1/11 – Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

February 2018 

  • 2/16 – Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
  • 2/16 – Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • 2/16 – Adult Hogs (2) (Sus scrofa)
  • 2/19 – Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • 2/21 – Juvenile Hogs (8) (Sus scrofa)
  • 2/28 – Wisteria (Wisteria sp.)
  • 2/28 – Azalea (Rhododendron sp.)

March 2018

  • 3/1 – Bobcat scream heard (Lynx rufus)
  • 3/1 – Purple Martins (Progne subis)
  • 3/5 – Black Racer (Coluber constrictor)
  • 3/7 – White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • 3/9 – Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • 3/19 – Swallow Tail Kite (Elanoides forficatus)

April 2018

  • 4/3- Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • 4/4- Rough green snake (Ophiodrys aestivus)
  • 4/21 – Meadow garlic (Allium canadense)
  • 4/21 – Shortlead sneezeweed (Helenium brevifolium)
  • 4/21 – Yellow trumpets (Sarracenia alata)
  • 4/21 – Crimson pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla)
  • 4/21 – Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea)
  • 4/21 – Slender vervain (Verbena rigida)
  • 4/21 – Hairyflower spiderwort (Tradescantia hirsutiflora)
  • 4/21 – Yellow Colicroot (Aletris lutea)
  • 4/21 – Huckleberry (Gaylussacia sp.)
  • 4/23- White ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  • 4/24- Red–bellied woodpecker, eastern wood-pewee, great crested flycatcher, yellow-throated vireo, brown thrasher, black-and-white warbler, magnolia warbler, bay-breasted warbler, pine warbler, summer tanager

May 2018

  • 5/5- Amphiuma (Amphiuma means)
  • 5/18- Large alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • 5/23- Small alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • 5/24 – Savannah meadow beauty (Rhexia alifanus)


Earth Day Art Workshop: Botanical Watercolor with Penny Crawford

Celebrate Earth Day with Grand Bay NERR by exploring botanical watercolor art. Guest instructor Penny Crawford will lead the workshop. Materials and supplies are provided with $40 workshop fee. Update: Workshop fee has been reduced to $30 to more accurately reflect material costs. 

Full Instructor Biography:





Penny was born and raised in Louisiana. She and her husband moved to Diamondhead, MS from Slidell, LA just in time for hurricane Katrina.  Drawing and an interest in nature were always a part of Penny’s life.  Time spent in her garden, boating along area rivers, walking and dirt biking have all been sources of inspiration.  With both parents being artistic, and no formal training, Penny enjoys learning about different mediums, including watercolor, pastels, acrylic, charcoal and pen and ink.  Botanical paintings of plant materials are drawn in pen and ink and painted in vibrant watercolor.  A love of detail is a highlight of much of Penny’s work.  As an avid gardener, wildflower enthusiast and observer of nature, Penny strives to bring those elements to life on watercolor paper.  Her botanical paintings are drawn from living plant material and include not only the beautiful color and shape of the plants, but also may include bug holes and tears that occur naturally. As influenced by her Master Flower Show Judge training, arranging and staging of the plant material is also an important factor in her botanical paintings.  An interest in sharing her techniques has led her to teach classes as part of the Continuing Education Program in Diamondhead, MS.

Penny has been a member of The Arts Hancock County in Mississippi and the St. Tammany Pastel Society in Louisiana and currently leads the Friday Painters Group in Diamondhead.  Her work has been on exhibit in public buildings in Bay St. Louis, MS and Slidell, LA.  Some of her paintings are currently on display in the East Hancock Library, Peoples Bank, and Hancock Medical Center in Diamondhead.  Donated works have gone to support The Mississippi Gulf Coast Pilgrimage, The Pink Heart Fund and other local charities and public fund raisers.

December Adventure Quencher: Star Party 2017

Guests on the first hayride of the night

This year’s Star Party occurred on December 16, 2017, just past the peak viewing days for the Geminid Meteor Shower. But that didn’t stop some of our guests from seeing a few stray Geminid meteors! After a couple hours of partly cloudy skies, guests were treated to perfect clear skies for good views of the winter constellations. Our hayrides shuttled families to the Bayou Heron boat launch, where our telescopes, binoculars, and stargazing apps were set up by some of our staff and volunteers.

Back at the Coastal Resources Center, we had games, paper crafts, hot chocolate, and soups. We transformed our dormitories into a space just for cookie decorating. One of our very popular activities was the Screech Owl Walk. At one point, they had about 60 people on the walk!



New to Star Party this year was our campground-themed room, where a space story was read to our younger guests. The Ocean Springs library also held a raffle for rain barrels, and winners were excited to take one home. Guests were also able to see our resident Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin, Tobi, in her new and improved home in the interpretive center.

Santa and his elf made an appearance for pictures with guests, which can be found here: Star Party 2017 Photos.




Dennis McGrury sporting our tackiest sweater this year.

Grand Bay NERR staff once again held a tacky sweater contest with the guests voting on the winner. Our Outreach Specialist, Dennis McGrury, who sported a cozy red sweater featuring a fuzzy llama, was the winner!

Star Party is Grand Bay NERR’s largest open house event that occurs around the Geminid Meteor Shower each year. It’s a fun family event for all, and one we hope becomes a family tradition for guests. One of our guests commented on Facebook, “We had a great time!! The staff were wonderful and extremely friendly! I would definitely go back for future events.”

We would like to extend a special thanks to veterans from the VA Hospital in Biloxi, MS for helping us with crafts and decorations (Veterans Photos Here), and thanks to our volunteers, fellow staff, and guests for making Star Party 2017 another great success!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone,

-Grand Bay NERR Staff

Clear skies at the Grand Bay NERR during Star Party 2017. Photo by C. Huynh



Sightings for June – October 2017

June 2017

  • 6/13- Marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris)
  • 6/15- Speckled king snake (Lampropeltis getula holibrooki)

July 2017

  • 7/18- Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucoceophalus)
  • 7/20- Cookie monster (Muppet crustulumi)
  • 7/24- Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

August 2017

  • 8/8- Southeastern five-lined skink (Pleistodon inexpectatus)
  • 8/16- Green tree frog (Hyla cinerea)
  • 8/17- Black vulture (Coragyps atratus)
  • 8/31- Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris)

September 2017

  • 9/22- Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
  • 9/25- White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

October 2017

  • 10/9- Gulf fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae)
  • 10/9- Southeastern five-lined skink (Pleistodon inexpectatus)
  • 10/9- Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
  • 10/9- Velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis)


  • 10/12- Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucoceophalus)
  • 10/12- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • 10/12- White ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  • 10/12- Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • 10/12- Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


  • 10/14- White pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
  • 10/14- Salt marsh snake (Nerodia clarkii)
  • 10/14- Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus)
  • 10/14- Great egret (Ardea alba)
  • 10/14- Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)
  • 10/14- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • 10/14- Snowy egret (Egretta thula)
  • 10/14- American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
  • 10/14- Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
  • 10/14- White ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  • 10/14- Tricolor heron (Egretta tricolor) 
  • 10/14- Royal tern (Thalasseus maximus)
  • 10/14- Belted kingisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


  • 10/19- White-tailed deer (large buck) (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • 10/19- White pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)