Saturday, December 8, 2012

Texas Trip: Aransas NWR to Port Aransas

Brown Pelican, Port Aransas, TX

I'm back from my 9-day trip to Texas with my friend Cory DeStein.  We saw a lot of good birds and each got some good lifers (Cory got more than 40!).  Over the next week and a half I will do a few posts for each of the main locations we birded, and post some photos from them as well.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was beautiful, and our main target bird there was Whooping Crane.  We started the morning off birding near the visitor center where we picked through the winter flocks of songbirds, which contained mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets along with Orange-crowned Warblers and a few other common species.  We also had American Kestrel, Merlin, and flyover Sandhill Cranes, Snow and Ross's Geese, and a Pine Siskin.

We then drove the auto loop stopping every so often to look at the waterfowl, pelicans, and waders.  Highlights along the loop were hundreds of Redhead, Northern Pintail, and several other waterfowl species, and great looks at Whooping Crane from the observation tower.  We had six in all.  Two right by the tower (they are usually very distant), two close flybys, and two distant birds.  Other birds we had on the loop included Inca Dove, Orange-crowned Warblers, Red-tailed Hawks, and some very large wild pigs that scared the pants off of Cory (I saved him though).
Whooping Crane, Aransas NWR, Texas
Whooping Crane, Aransas NWR, Texas
From Aransas we drove south to Goose Island State Park where we saw hundreds of Brown and American White Pelicans, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Redhead, Caspian and Royal Terns, and other waterfowl and shorebirds.

We then drove to Port Aransas to look for terns (I still needed Sandwich for the year).  At the jetty we head Black, Forster's, Caspian, Royal, and Sandwich Terns, and a Reddish Egret but not much else except for an unidentified sea turtle that popped up for a few seconds.  We continued south from there adding Crested Caracara and White-tailed Hawks on the power lines on the barrier islands north of Corpus Christi.
Reddish Egret, Port Aransas, TX
 By Luke Musher


  1. Good GRIEF I love that place. Wonderful shots!

    See any alligators? That was rather exciting for me, California girl, hiking down a trail and realizing those 8 giant alligators at the pond could run over here (30 mph, I think?) and chomp on us.

    That is SUPER lucky re: having the whooping cranes so close. When I was there they were SO far off, through the scope they shimmered with the heat and looked like GIANT white dinosaur birds. Got better views later on a (relatively) eco-friendly boat tour. Crested caracara almost made me SWOON (it was eating a DEAD wild pig, so Cory would not have been frightened). =) Clearly I need to bone up on hawks before I get down there, next time, starting with Merlin and White-tailed Hawks.

  2. We did not see any alligators at Aransas, but we also didn't spend much time there. We did see a large alligator at Estero Llano State Park, appropriate at Alligator Lake.

    And the only good wild pig, is a dead wild pig in my opinion. Horrible animals.