The eight miles of sand beaches of Hancock County were artificially constructed for human recreation, but the combination of sand beach, seawall, and marsh offer prime habitat for a variety of shorebirds and water birds in migration and winter. This trail loop consists of three main sites accessible from South Beach Boulevard with additional observation opportunities along the road to its end at Bayou Caddy. From Bay St Louis the road runs southwest through Waveland then turns abruptly southward. Under certain conditions of weather and tide, this shift can have a distinct effect on bird distribution on any given day. The GPS coordinates indicate stops with formal parking and facilities, but there are many places along the boulevard and intersecting side streets with safe and legal parking. The seaward side of the road is a combination of artificial sand beach and seawall with some patches of marsh west of Waveland. It is all public land. The inland side is mostly private residential through the incorporated areas, mixed public/private beyond. Try to time your visit to the first few hours of a falling tide when shorebirds concentrating on the freshly exposed mudflats are still within close viewing range but waters are still deep enough for ducks, loons, grebes, gulls and terns to feed fairly close to shore. Click on the Icon above for complete tide information across the coast.
A representative list of annually occurring target species: Surf and Black Scoters, Magnificent Frigatebird, Northern Gannet,
Reddish Egret, Piping and Snowy Plovers, American Oystercatcher, American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, Red Knot, Franklin’s Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich and Gull-billed Terns. Less frequently seen but possible: White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Eared Grebe, Wilson’s Plover, Whimbrel, and Parasitic Jaeger. Some great rarities: Red-throated and Pacific Loons, California Gull, Sooty and Bridled Terns.