This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June. It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.
Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways. First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there. I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994. With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them. The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach. It was in May during spring migration. I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries. All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.
Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island. So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.
Birding this year was tough. I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed. Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned. Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds. But I did manage to find a few good spots.
The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel. The damage from the hurricane was very evident here. Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.
While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner. It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them. I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.
The sunset was gorgeous!
The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed. Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks. It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there. Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.
I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past. Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns. The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.
I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters. I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.
From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. There is a marina there. I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.
Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands. I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me! A White-Tailed Hawk. Gorgeous!!!
I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina. I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics. I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman. 🙂
As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire. He let me take a few pics before flying off.
The marina was not a disappointment. There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.
Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past. I drove over there to see if I could find anything. I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies. I’d never seen Willet babies before. Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family. You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.
Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.
There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.
The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.
I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier. Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish. 🙂
The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons. What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species. Interesting bird.
After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat. Most of the birds were too far away for photos. I managed to see one bird closer to me. And to my surprise it was a lifer! A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile. Too bad it wasn’t an adult. They are beautiful birds. Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area! I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.
I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly. 🙂
During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.
While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well. They were hanging up the catch of the day. Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.
It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!
I took the sunset tour. We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse. We got there just as the sun was setting. So lovely!
One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish. He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.
I love people watching. I think most people do. While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.
I saw lots of turtles about while birding. I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.
I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother. We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days. And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners. I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.