Friday, May 20, 2011

Birding in and around Aransas Pass

Recently the Texas Ramblin’ Roses (the TX chapter of RVing Women) had a rally in Aransas Pass, TX. A group of us went birding one morning and we were rewarded with about the most perfect birding day one could hope for. The winds were calm, the weather was cool, mosquitoes were rare, and birds were in abundance. I’ve never had a bad birding trip to the Texas Coast and this trip netted me 13 life birds! I should mention that I’m still a novice, having just recently returned to birding after a decades-long absence from the field.

Commen Moorhen

We started out near the RV Park where we saw, among other birds, Roseate Spoonbills, Tri-Colored Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets. We then drove to Port Aransas (saw dolphins from the ferry) to see what we could find at the Birding Center.

We saw two alligators!

Upon entering, we immediately identified a variety of warblers, vireos, and Empidonax flycatchers in the brush right by the trail to the boardwalk. We eventually tore ourselves away to go to the boardwalk for waterfowl watching. We were incredibly lucky to see a Least Bittern and a mother Pied Billed Grebe feeding her two babies. This inspired us to have some seafood of our own and we headed over to Fin’s for a meal and brewskis.

The next day several of the group headed back to Port Aransas to check out Paradise Pond, which had been recommended by a birder we met at the Birding Center. There we saw more warblers, including an abundance of American Redstarts, along with water thrushes. We think we saw both the Louisiana and the Northern Waterthrush but only the northern was listed on the chalk board at the entrance.

On the third day – this is beginning to sound biblical – we drove to Rockport to see the nesting black skimmers. By then the wind had really picked up and the birds were hunkered down out of sight. We did find a rookery in Rockport where we watched herons and egrets moving around in the treetops.

My last two birding trips have rekindled the excitement I had when I first began birding back in the 80s. It feels new and fresh to me and I’m astounded at the variety of birds in Texas, especially along the coast. I’m cementing what I’ve learned by reading, searching the web, and using iBird Pro, the cool app on my Droid.

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