Because Florida has such a long panhandle, Alabama has very little coastline. (There must be a good story behind that decision.) And what there is, is bring gobbled up by condos and other development. After Hurricane Ivan destroyed many homes on the barrier islands here, the land prices were temporarily depressed and the government bought up all that the owners were willing to sell and created Bon Secour (safe haven) National Wildlife Refuge,. This 10,000 acre park is still interrupted by land belonging to owners that did not want to leave. The campground where we are staying is on one of these parcels.
We joined a grizzled old local for a nature walk from the pine forests to the beach through the refuge. He has lived here all his life and volunteers to share what is left of the nature he enjoyed as s boy. As we walked he frequently referred to flora and fauna citing things he had learned from retired ornithologists and botanists who had taken these walks with him. It made me a bit sad. In the good old days we would have taken such a walk with a trained ranger who was paid for his knowledge and experience. There seems to be so little money left for such things these days.
The plants which live in such an area are highly specialized and must be flexible, since when there is a lot of rain the wetlands are nearly fresh water and when a hurricane puts an eleven foot surge over the place as Ivan did, the sandy soil is full of salt. I saw a lichen I had never seen before that looked like soap bubbles percolating up from the ground. The many damaged trees provided a happy hunting ground for wood peckers and supplied the perches free from vegetation that the ospreys love. We saw one catch a fish and be greeted with cries of joy as he brought lunch to his waiting mate sitting on their eggs. The beach here is a hatchery when the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and many water birds winter here or pause on their long migration routes. We didn't see any alligators as we walked around Alligator Lake, which was just fine with me.