The Same, but Different

Our first full week along the Texas Gulf Coast whizzed by.  Even though our weather was a mixed bag of cold, warm, sunny, gloomy, wet and dry, I have no complaints.  It’s been a great week exploring some familiar turf.Texas Gulf Coast

This is our third January hanging out in Rockport, Texas, just down the road from Goose Island State Park.  We’re staying in a private RV park surrounded by some familiar faces and some new faces.  Although the RV park is much the same, there’s a few subtle improvements which are always appreciated.  There’s also a few changes in the neighborhood, a couple of blocks away from the park.

This photo was taken last year. There was never a shortage of cranes to photograph

This photo was taken last year. There was never a shortage of cranes to photograph

The first thing I noticed were the lack of sandhill and whooping cranes hanging around the neighborhood.  Turns out, one of the homes in the area changed ownership, and the new owners decided not to keep up with a feeder.  The locals aren’t too happy anyway about all the tourists and photographers parking in the middle of the road to capture glimpses of the rare, endangered whooping crane.  Plus, Texas has received an abundance of rain resulting in a bumper crop of Blue Crab, the whoopers favorite.

A homeowner maintains a feeder filled with cracked corn

Last year a homeowner maintained a feeder filled with cracked corn

Sandhill and Whooping cranes appreciate the cracked corn during seasons of drought

Sandhill and Whooping cranes appreciate the cracked corn during times of drought

whooping cranes

Endangered Whooping Cranes taking flight

I’m not sure what it is about these coastal birds that has me intrigued, fascinated, and totally enthralled.  It’s captivating to watch these magnificent birds take flight or land.  They exude a sense of weightlessness and perhaps even power that is mesmerizing.  Yep, I’ve definitely developed a passion for cranes.

It's amazing to watch these large birds in flight

It’s amazing to watch these large birds in flight

Whooping cranes

I’m a little disappointed I won’t be able to photograph these gorgeous birds this visit as easily as I did last year.  I might make a special trip out to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge or I’ll focus on photographing some of the other beautiful coastal birds.  There’s no shortage of birds along the Texas Gulf Coast and a little patience and perseverance usually pays off.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Who can pass up an opportunity to capture the pink beauty of a Roseate Spoonbill?

an Egret prepares to land

Snowy Egret prepares to land

I find Egrets to be particularly elegant.  I wonder how they manage to stay so white.  If only I knew their secret so I could have the same results with my socks 😉

Week one was off to a fabulous start, and thus I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover over the next three weeks.  Fingers crossed the weather will cooperate.  If you’d like more information on the endangered whooping crane, you can read my post here (I give some statistics) and here (my second trip) and here (my visit to the International Crane Foundation).

Exploring the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail: Highlights Of A Birding Mecca (Exploring Series)

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107 thoughts on “The Same, but Different

  1. I’ve never seen a whooping crane…I really need to take a trip down. Of all the egrets, I think the snowy is my favorite…well I kinda like the tri-color and the dancing too let’s face it Ingrid…we are just bird lovers 🙂 doesn’t matter which ones

    • Haha! I can so relate to your comment. One minute the whooper is my fave and then it’s the tri or egret or even the vulture. So yes, we are bird lovers. I had the best day yet today seeing whoopers, sandhills, roseattes, egrets, killdeer all in one spot. Bingo!

  2. Egrets are particularly elegant, I agree with you, There are slender, they look so fragile. The picture of the spoonbill is also gorgeous. I didn’t know we could find pink spoonbill

  3. Such beautiful captures, Ingrid. Whenever I find myself down south, I always take note of the birds. Though we have our own, that’s true, they can’t quite compare to those that live near the ocean and marshes.

  4. Fantastic crane extravaganza, Ingrid! Your photos of the whooping cranes are truly gorgeous, and the spoonbill is lovely too. You have done a wonderful job of educating us on the cranes, thank you. 🙂

    • Thank you Jet, it is exciting to see these wild whoopers in their natural environment and their numbers slowly increasing. It’s hard not to be intrigued by them.

  5. That first image is spectacular! Reminds us of why we love the coast so much. That area of Texas offers some of the best the Gulf Coast has to offer, in many ways. The birding is hard to beat! Your Sandhills and Whoopers are prime examples! Very nice capture of the Snowy landing with those golden slippers ready to grip the railing.

    I hope your weather cooperates and you’re able to take full advantage of your time there!

    • Thanks, we do enjoy our time here along the coast. I’m never at a loss for photographic opportunities. I am hoping for some nicer weather though 😉

    • There are so many fantastic places along the Gulf of Mexico that provide an abundance of great birding opportunities. Sometimes it’s hard to pick where to go. Last year we spent 3 months along the TX coast, from Galveston to Corpus Christi. This year it’s only one month. And next year? Who knows. That’s the beauty of living in a home on wheels 🙂

  6. Good luck at Aransas! We really enjoyed seeing it one trip, but unfortunately the whoopers were way off the grid and unavailable for photography. Excited it will soon be spoonbill nesting season!

    • I had the same problem out at the refuge and have had much better luck photographing the cranes in Lamar, TX. I need to find me some spoonbills. I love how pink the males get as they get closer to nesting season.

      • Last year we found a reliable spot for spoonbills only 10 minutes from our house. It was a revelation. If you are ever near Palm Bay, Florida, let me know and I’ll tell you where. I hear that Tampa has some good spots too.

    • Thank you Amy. I’m not sure about the bird seasons, but I did have one local birder tell me that I should hang around through April to enjoy all the migrating birds.

  7. You know, I’d never thought about it before, but that’s a great point. How do they stay so white? I can imagine Procter & Gamble or somebody paying good money for the secret. 🙂

  8. Ingrid!
    It is always more rewarding when photography requires over coming a challenge. Love those “pink spooners”… and the sock joke… hilarious! Look forward to seeing more beautiful photos!
    Gene

    • Well, I’ve certainly jumped into the challenge pool as I learn all about my new Canon. And then of course, I’m slowly grasping Lightroom. Keep those informative posts coming.

  9. Hi Friend! (Craniac, I mean) and Happy New Year! I was just going looking for you, and there was Live Laugh RV at the top of my “Reader”. I was reminded today that one has a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing a whooping crane in the wild; not sure what that says about your odds with the lottery, but you sure have beaten them with the “whoopers” and I’m about 100% certain you’ll be out at Aransas and seeing them there before this trip is over – no? And those crazy pink birds – the roseates! I meant to mention them when we talked this summer. The only thing I know about them is what they look like – from all their pictures – and their names. They are something!

    • I think I’ll go buy a couple of power ball tickets in hopes I’ll have similar luck as I’ve had seeing the whoopers 😆 Saw five wild whoopers yesterday and captured a few shots of them in flight. These are all wild ones with no trackers or bands. Always a thrill to watch them. But those pink beauties have looks AND personality.

  10. This is one winter that I will definitely be jealous of your birding. But I am consoled with all your great bird photography! Perhaps my days with the Roseates are temporarily over and Im very sad 😦
    So I will rely on you to fill in my longings with your photos. I think you need to talk to those new home owners, how dare they not providing some treats for the Whoopers.

    • Wish you were here to be my partner in crime. I know someone who has a new Canon that could use a little assistance.
      The desert should be beautiful this spring with all the moist 🙂

    • No, I have not had a chance to make it to the Salton Sea. Thanks for reminding me. With all the rain, is the water higher? I’ve read articles where they are expecting it to dry out. I better get there before that happens!

  11. Time is funny…sometimes it just flies by and other times it almost stands still. This RV life style has taught me to enjoy every second…wet or dry, chilly or warm…it just doesnt really matter does it? Anyway, your pictures of the birds are, as always, amazing! I do love the egrets and photograph them whenever they grace me with their presence…enjoy! Cant wait for more!

    • Thanks Gay. It is wonderful to be able to go from the red rocks of Moab, to a forest of saguaros in Arizona, to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico all within a matter of a few months and taking our home with us. I love the diversity and sense of contrast and don’t seem to be bothered by inclement weather as much as I once was. I know tomorrow mother nature will change her mind, and keep me guessing.
      More bird photos in the works!

  12. Your bird photos are fabulous, Ingrid! You really do a spectacular job of catching them in flight (or taking off and landing). I’m kind of bummed that the cranes won’t be quite so easy to see now that they’re not hanging around being fed….at the same time, I’m very happy that the blue crabs have returned in abundance so that the cranes can be eating their natural diet. I’m sure you’ll be finding plenty of feathered friends to photograph!

    • Thank you Laurel. Yes, it’s a good thing the cranes are dining on plenty of blue crabs and I’ll definitely be searching out some other feathered friends. I hope you and Eric are having your own field day photographing birds in Florida and enjoying some lovely weather.

  13. Your flight photos have me wanting more of these magnificent cranes in flight. I love the black tipped wings. You are quite the expert at getting the best photos. Love that Egret landing:) But that Roseate Spoonbill is SO pink!! What a beauty! While you might have to search a little more this year, I guess it is a positive that the birds have plenty of their natural food:) Looking forward to more bird photos and this coming from a nonbirder:)

    • All the Texas moisture is indeed a good thing for ALL of the birds. These coastal birds are so beautiful that it’s hard not to be drawn to them. It’s amazing how easily a ‘non-birder’ can turn into a birder…. or at least someone who likes to take pictures of birds 😉

  14. I was born and raised in Texas but was never in this area. What a shame as the wildlife is wonderful. Really enjoyed your terrific photos.

    • Texas is a huge state….. another country, thus no surprise you haven’t been to this area. Ah, but now you are in Florida where there is an equal abundance of unique and beautiful wildlife. Hope you are enjoying your new home.

    • Thank you. It was such a calm and quiet morning and I got lucky capturing it. I’ve returned to that spot several times and no repeat.

  15. Love those birds, especially the pink. Too bad they had to stop feeding them though, you were probably looking forward to seeing them.

    • I actually had a good day today with five whooping cranes hanging around for a short time, but I do need to branch out and explore some other areas and photograph some ‘new to me’ birds. Hopefully I’ll get lucky (birding, lucky) 😆

    • I never thought I’d enjoy watching birds this much. Perhaps it’s because they are so pretty and new to me. We just don’t see birds like this inland.

      • I’ve lived most of my life about 90 miles from the California Coast – along the deltas and rivers of the central valley. For that, I am grateful. Sandhill and Egrets are our neighbors, as are river otters and beavers and bushy tailed squirrels that hang out in the trees outside our bedroom window chattering away.

  16. Gorgeous shots! Love the socks comment! I’ve been itching to go out bird watching, there certainly are enough of them right now.

    As much as I love the pelicans, I have so many backyard birds, hawks, eagles and shore birds in my own yard…I hate to go anywhere. Watching birds is just a great activity…like watching fish in a fish tank. I used to spend hours as a kid watching my fish interact…way more interesting than TV!

    • Thank you. Yes, you sure have plenty of birds to watch in FL. I actually put up a bird feeder behind the RV yesterday. I hope to lure in the cardinals flitting about. So far, just sparrows and a squirrel…. entertaining as well.

    • Thanks Sylvia. I’ve been seeing a Great Blue Heron near the waterfront and thoughts of you and your tale of ‘neighbors’ always comes to mind. Mr. A also has a relative hanging ’round these parts 😆

  17. Hope you can find more “whoopers” while you are down there this month. Too bad that the neighbor isn’t continuing with the feeder. Enjoy!

    • Ah, the elusive pink beauty, I’m always on the hunt. I am so much more patient this year than ever before so I’m excited to come across some interesting birds. Thus, I’ll be posting more!

    • Thank you Linda. Since I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying many a gorgeous winter in the mountains, I’ll stick to the lovely white of the elegant egret and rely on you to post photos of a white winter wonderland.

  18. I love the first picture of the sunset over the water! Sorry to hear the cranes are not as plentiful this year, you may have to take a road trip and find where they are hanging out this year!

    • I’m on the hunt every morning (as is Al) and we’re off to a great start. Hopefully the next 3 weeks will go equally as well. Nothing better than a mug of hot coffee watching the sunrise over the bay 🙂

  19. Love your sunset post! So peaceful & calming. It’s a shame the new owners aren’t supplying corn for the cranes too but then again I totally understand the reasons for their resistance. I am looking so looking forward to more bird photos from you this season.

    • Trust me, there will be plenty of bird photos and hopefully more sunrise photos. It’s actually good news that mother nature is providing plenty of food for the cranes this year. With all the rain Texas has received, the severe drought is but a memory.

  20. Ingrid, this just makes me sad. I hope that you will still be able t see some of the whoopers during your stay. I am so grateful we went there last year and were able to see them. The reinforces my belief that if you want to do something don’t put it off because you never know what the future will bring.

    • I just saw five of them today for a short time. With plenty of natural food available, they’re spending most of the time in the back country. I feel honored to have the photos that I’ve snapped over the past two years. It’s probably time for me to focus on some of the other birds. As you well know, there’s no shortage around here. I do like that pink!

    • Plenty of photo ops around here and it’s fun to transition between shooting birds and sunrises/sunsets. Lots of folks from the Midwest wintering around here. Take note 😆

      • Hey, Ingrid! My pleasure. No, I’ve never painted one before, but I’m always looking for new ideas 🙂 Maybe I’ll add one to my list. Thank you and have a lovely day!

  21. Another amazing bird that migrates between the TX coastal areas to Canada is the fresh-water Great White Pelican which flocks together in the thousands. Just stand under 1,000 low-flying graceful white birds and they too will win your heart!

    • Oh trust me, those white pelicans have already won me over. I’m dually entertained by them. Hopefully I can get some fun shots to post 🙂

  22. Nice post, you made me feel homesick for being outside in relatively warm weather! Enjoy your stay along the Texas coast. Keep the bird photos coming! Happy New Year.

    • Happy New Year to you too Clay. I definitely don’t miss those Chicago winters. I try and keep the Texas photos coming to warm ya up 😉

  23. I’m with you — whether or not the weather is what it’s ‘supposed’ to be I am glad simply to be away from the extreme cold and snow of Wisconsin. You are allowed to talk about things without being understood to be complaining!!!!

    As we were driving out to Cedar Key yesterday Peggy asked how much the bird population has declined in recent years. I had no factual answer about that but the question had me thinking all day long about what the world would be like without birds! I too am fascinated by herons and egrets and cranes — they are so amazing and I’m surprised at the places we find them. But my biggest joy is the pelican. Have no idea why I find them so fascinating but with as much time as we have spent along the Mississippi in the past 4 years they have really captured my fancy.

    Keep shooting. Love you pictures. I’m just being so lazy about not shooting and enjoying the opposite of my working life.

    • I sure don’t miss shoveling snow and prefer my snow fix via other folks photos of the white stuff. I understand your fascination with Pelicans…. they always make me smile. They are such characters.
      Well, you spent how many years shooting professionally? So, it’s probably time to take a break and pull out the camera only when you’re in the mood. I’m sure you’ll be seeing plenty of interesting birds this winter in Florida – enjoy.

    • Those roseate spoonbills are striking. I’m always on the look out for that vibrant pink. I’ll be spending next week on the hunt for those beauties. Fingers crossed that I’ll have luck 🙂

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