Aransas Wildlife Refuge continued

birds of preyAs I stand on the 40 foot high observation platform at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, I’m mesmerized by the vultures.  I savor the quiet solitude as I stand against the rail.  I watch the vultures gracefully soar through the air while hunting for prey.

There’s a deer in the meadow below.  I see flocks of birds in the distance.  With eyes closed, I tilt my head to the sky breathing in the scent of the sea air while basking in the warmth of the sun.Rockport Texascranes

I’m totally lost in the moment. I’m in my own little word….that is until I’m abruptly snapped out of my trance by the shrieking tantrums of a three year old.  So much for my fifteen minutes of solitude.  Forty feet below me is the minivan whose occupants are clearly not happy.birding in Texaswildlife refuge

The disgruntled family can be heard across the marsh.  The deer move on.  Birds fly off including my vulture friends.  As I hear the wheels of a stroller clickety clacking over the slated decking with a crying occupant making it’s way up the platform ramp, I take that as my que to move on as well.birding

I scurry down the ramp passing the frazzled family.  We exchange smiles and “good mornings”.  I’m sure I was sporting a look of sympathy, although I’m not sure who I should feel sympathetic for; the kiddies who would prefer to see the likes of a Mickey or Minnie or the folks trying to expose the kiddies to some of natures beauty.  Ah, I remember those days fondly.

With the truck started, the intent is to make my way back via the same road…..nope, changed my mind and I take the 16 mile Auto Tour Loop inland.  This single lane, one way, paved road provides a leisurely ride through the ‘Texas savannah’.  Along the way one might see deer, hawks, javelina, bobcat, or the occasional snake crossing the road.  There are pull-outs every now and then, but since I’m the only one out here, I feel free to stop occasionally in the middle of the road. I jump out of the vehicle from time to time to photograph the landscape.  Yep, just the landscape as this gal did not encounter any other wildlife – well except for the wasp wanting to free load a ride.  Yeah, not the brightest thing I did that day leaving my car window open in front of this sign.birding

wildlife refuge

Loop completed, I stop once again at the ‘Heron Flats’ viewing area.  Earlier in the day I had this place to myself.  Now there are two other cars and a couple of cyclists.  I look off to the right in the first marsh….nothing.  I continue to the viewing platform…..very few birds.  On my return to the truck a woman asks me if I’ve seen the whoopers.  I respond, “I don’t think so.  What do they look like again?”……Light bulb!  “Oh, they were here earlier this morning”.  Now I know.  I’ve seen and photographed the endangered whooping crane without effort while folks from around the country are traveling to this area in hopes of their own personal glimpse.whooping crane

While having a pleasant conversation with this woman, her husband who had remained by the marsh near the beginning of the trail yells out to his wife, “alligator”.  She and I swiftly join him at his side as he points out the rather large gator in the distance.   There are no fences or barriers.  The alligator looks well fed and ready for a nap. I did not notice him earlier and am grateful the gator was pointed out to me.


Can you see him?



Happy with my wildlife sightings this morning, I decide it’s time to return home.  We won’t mention the growling stomach.  Next time I’ll bring snacks.pelicans

Would I recommend a visit to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge?  I guess it depends on ones expectations.  I talked to some local wildlife photographers near my RV Park and they personally have never had much luck with their bird photo captures from land at the refuge.  I hear, via boat is the best way.whooping craneThe refuge is located 35 miles north of Rockport, Texas, out in the boonies.  I made the mistake of not packing a lunch.  I think it’s a great place to learn and experience.  However, I was disappointed several trails and viewing platforms were closed due to damage.  I enjoyed the day and would go back, but I would go early in the morning and prepare to spend the day.

That said, I have had better luck photographing birds off Fulton Beach Road and Lamar Beach Road……near Goose Island State Park, Texas.
Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail: Highlights of a Birding Mecca (Exploring Series)
Birding Trails Texas Gulf Coast


69 thoughts on “Aransas Wildlife Refuge continued

    • I don’t know what it is about those pelicans but they just make me smile. Yes, we are definitely enjoying the area and hope to return next winter 🙂

  1. I felt your pain….quietly communing with nature, enjoying the moment then….loud voices! Kids, adults, dogs, bus tours, etc., they all drive me crazy. The folks next to us here at Holiday Cove are soooo loud and they seem to think everyone is awake because they are! Ah well, I have to live in this world, so I better get a thicker skin, eh?

    Thanks for sharing your day and those fantastic pictures. I agree with Pam, I bet lots of people go home complaining about not seeing a thing. You just need to sit still and look for nature to open itself to you.

    • The beauty of this lifestyle …. ‘all is temporary’. I’m not overly joyed with our current RV Park but I’ve adjusted and realize I can put up with lots of things for 30 days. Aren’t you glad you don’t own the site and they’ll always be your neighbor?

      The whole point of the refuge is for the wildlife and we are mere observers-guests and as such we should be quiet and respectful; that’s my two cents anyway LOL.

  2. Ingrid, there is nothing more peaceful than standing still, all by yourself, in the wilds of nature and breathing in the beauty! Beautiful captures!!!

    • Thanks Larry. I think you might enjoy it around here. The mom and pop restaurants are fun…..some better than others and the fresh seafood markets are great. Very relaxing and low key 🙂

  3. You’re catching some great critter shots, Ingrid. I would go nuts at a chance to shoot a whooping crane or a sandhill. Could do without the screaming brat, but then it’s good to teach ’em young, so hopefully they learn to appreciate and preserve some natural beauty (rather than the Mickey or Minnie or MickeyD)! 🙂

    • I used to take my kids and expose them to things outside of the amusement realm but always made sure they were well rested and fed. Now that they’re older they appreciate the diversity they were exposed to at a young age.
      I was out and about at 7:00 this morning shortly before the sun rose….foggy but fun captures. Yes, you would no doubt have a great time 🙂

  4. What a wonderful collection you have captured. I love the HUGE white pelican with it’s white reflection across the water. And the alligator….not a baby one there! Loved the show!

    • Thanks. No that was no baby gator….one well fed gator I’d say The pelicans are a blast to watch. I’m not sure I would tire of those guys 🙂

  5. I totally agree about the area around Lamar…have you been to the little church and old cemetery in Lamar? I believe the old fire station is there too. We love riding our bikes around all those residential roads and out toward the bay…Can’t wait to get there!

    • Yep, ride my bike or walk all around here….love it. Since you’ve been here and road around then you’ll know where to find the whoopers. Best seen before 10:00 a.m. either off 4th Street or Eleventh. Most times they seem to start on 4th then fly off and land on eleventh (in the field with the cows). I’ve been lucky being there to catch them fly off.
      I’m not sure if I should do a post on the cemetery or not, but we found it very interesting. 🙂

  6. I am assuming that many families return home telling people there was nothing to see. It amazing me how loud people are, both adults and their children! We enjoy the quiet of the area. And you most definitely need the quiet for the wildlife.

    Your birds in flight shots are wonderful! I love that huge white pelican!

    Glad you had a great day with some alone time:)

    • Oh, I’m sure that’s the case. In situations like this it’s all about patience AND silence…..not conducive for small children. I’m really humored by the pelicans 🙂

  7. What a great way to spend a little time and you got a lot of great shots – I especially like the cranes. We drove from Okeechobee, FL to The Palm Beach area this morning and saw lots of birds along the way, but no gators yet.

    • If I were a kid….gosh even a young adult, I would find the refuge a total bore, but now a days I appreciate the majestic beauty of the wildlife and the undisturbed beauty of the land 🙂 Gator toward the rear, on the left next to the brown marsh.

    • Thanks. We are really enjoying it but don’t plan on any sandy beaches. The big, sandy beach in Rockport is a fee use area. Great beach on Mustang Island (Port Aransas). You can even boondock on the beach but be forewarned about salt spray and corrosion.

  8. Great photos and well written. The line of birds directly over head is my favorite photo. We too took that loop and were able to stop along the way and explore. I remember feeling relieved when we finally got out.

    • Thanks Mike. Yeah, the loop was kind of long but it was out there in the boonies where I captured that Pelicans in flight shot. I was actually tempted to cut through on the ‘authorized personal only’ road taking me back to the main drag.

  9. Ingrid you are capturing some astounding shots. Keep up the great work. As far as seeing the alligator in the water…is it the from left corner? The photo of the real things was hopefully with a zoom lens!!

  10. Ingrid,
    Well done! Fun contrast between your nearly meditative state and then snap! back to public bustling interruption. Some folks never stop for the 15 minutes, don’t know what they’re missing. Thank you for reminding us of the beauty out there.

    • You welcome and yes it was definitely a contrast. I remember as a young mom wanting to expose my children to lots of things but also realizing kids have a short attention span. 🙂

  11. Beautiful, even if your solitude did get interrupted. I really like the Pelican???? If that is what it was. I don’t know about the wildlife photographers, but your birds were spectacular. Where is this located?

    • Thanks Sylvia. I just keep clicking and clicking in hopes I get at least one that’s focused. I keep wanting to set my camera on ‘burst’ but the birds always take flight when I’m not ready….go figure!

  12. The photo of the flying pelicans is an absolute beaut… I love it… the alligator, to be captured rather on film than on foot… the photos are just gorgeous… keep ’em coming… I’m loving this blog…

    • I just had a successful morning shooting a roseate spoonbill. I had images of my South African blogging buddy whirling through my head as I finally managed to get some nice captures of this pink beauty. 🙂

      • Such good news…. gives one a bit of a thrill when you get a good capture… almost a bit of an adrenaline rush… I think that’s what the attraction is to bird photography, gets addictive in the end… so don’t forget your wonderful landscape photos as well… (my landscapes are rubbish)

  13. Such stunning photos! Now I’m really excited. We’ve been seeing huge white birds with black tips and I was thinking Wood Stork, but now I wonder if it might be Whooping Cranes. I will definitely put Rockport TX on my list. We haven’t been to the Corpus Christi area yet, so perhaps next year.

    • Does it have a red head? Oh, how I wish I had a longer lens. I’m dreaming of a T3i LOL. When you and the hubby decide to visit be sure and email me and I’ll share lots of tidbits.

  14. Thank you for this great info for this is my kind of place minus screaming brats. Look at you with your birds in flight capture!, well done! Is that white bird a Pelican? It is so huge, with the little birds around it not to mention it is a great shot.
    That gator seems to say, “Lucky for you Ingrid, I am full for now, come back next time.”

    • Oh, I know you two would love it here. In addition to all the birds are plenty of museums including the USS Lexington Air Craft Carrier. Al actually learned to fly on and off that carrier when it was still in service. Should you visit the area, be sure and email me and I’ll share all kinds of tidbits. And yes, the big white bird is indeed a pelican 🙂

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