Jim D. from the boat
Dorcas, carefully choosing her shots
King Rail © Jay Hand
Texas: Day Four
The fourth day of the Texas Grand Tour started off with what is probably one of the highlights of the entire trip – our visit to the Aransas NWR, primary winter home of one the America's rarest birds, the endangered Whooping Crane. Tommy Moore made us all feel welcome aboard the Skimmer, his 40-foot vessel specially crafted to negotiate the shallow waters of Aransas Bay. As we proceeded up the intracoastal waterway, we were delighted by sights of Crested Caracara, Whooping Crane, and a multitude of heron species, including the dimorphous Reddish Egret, whose white color form is most commonly found along this coast
After a late check out at the hotel (1pm... can you believe they let us do this??!!), we headed into Rockport to find lunch, and we were greeted by a Magnificent Frigatebird riding the easterly winds directly over the "Golden Arches." Easterly winds howled throughout the day, buffeting our vehicles as we headed south toward the next day's adventures at the King Ranch. Across coastal prairie, and incredible number of salt pans, miles of drivable beach, and acres of agricultural fields, we pushed on looking for the rare and unusual. Unfortunately, our fears were confirmed in the significant drop in the number of Red Knot; we found none where they had been reliable years before. Spirits undaunted, we pressed on and finally were able to find our place of rest and a chance to briefly look through our many great photos of birds, scenery, and numerous new experiences.
Well, there was one experience I would be happy to forget... getting the big van stuck in the sand at Mustang Island, the 15 mile stretch of beach you can drive (just stay in the tracks!). With the help of our very enthusiastic team, we had the van out in about five minutes, which felt like twenty long minutes to me. Off we went with a great spirit of accomplishment and adventure.
Enjoy more tomorrow about the King Ranch, a privately held ranch that is nearly the size of Rhode Island.