ALABAMA

Dauphin Island Sings to Spring's Tune

Crossing over the clean, white bridge onto historic Dauphin Island, it's hard to believe that this pristine island's sordid history includes a Jamaican pirate raid and a Civil War battle. Today, you won't find ruffian rum-lovers or injured Confederate soldiers but there's no shortage of bird sanctuaries. Dauphin Island is home to seven bird sanctuaries, three privately owned, and acres of floral, tropical beauty. Among the island's sanctuaries, four are open to the public just in time for spring.

Put on your comfiest walking shoes, grab a pair of binoculars and take a photo safari of the island's secret winged and floral beauties. Wild and uncultivated palmetto palms line the walking path around the ancient Shell Mound. Sit on the bough of the 500-year old live oak tree and listen to friendly song birds like the Bronzed Cowbird, the Indigo Bunting and dozens of other species. Wild orange azaleas, fragrant camellias and bushy lantana make happy finds along the way.

At the Audubon Bird Sanctuary you won't find well-manicured beds of flowers or elegant topiaries. You'll be immersed in the island's primitive natural habitats complete with a walk through tropical trees, Southern Pines and heady Magnolias. Take the bridge over Tupelo swamp and you'll see tiny yellow swamp flowers along the edges of the brackish water. Once you reach Galliard Lake, stand on the boardwalk and take in 360 degrees of Dauphin Island at its most natural. 

If floral sophistication is what you seek, head over to the Isle Dauphine Golf Club. Besides lush, green Bermuda grass on the fairways--check out the expansive view of the Gulf of Mexico. Newly planted dunes of beach grass are everywhere, so if you see a lazy-headed flower, look but don't pick!

To get to Dauphin Island is a barrier island drive south along Mobile County. The island is connected to the mainland by Dauphin Island Bridge. On one side of the island lies the blue-green Gulf of Mexico and on the other the blue waters of Mobile Bay.

Roam the island's many public parks and sandy white beaches and find wildflowers like brown-eyed Susan's and dainty Southern Blue wildflowers. Enjoy a spring afternoon watching ghost crabs play in the sand and then choose one of the island's many seafood restaurants for a tasty finish to a wonderful spring day.

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