Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rockport, TX

Majestic Oak RV 
Rockport, TX
February 3-8, 2018

The Texas Gulf has been on our radar for several years.  We have made plans in the past and for one reason or another, plans changed.  Since we made the trip back to Georgia in January, this was the year !  It's all about the birds...birds we have never seen before...that drew us here.  Galveston was unharmed by Harvey, but it's a different story here in Rockport (less than 180 miles away) where the eye of the storm hit land.  Folks are working hard and will be for months to come, but everywhere we go, people are smiling, are friendly and have stories to tell centered around hope and the future.  

Majestic Oak RV was our home for the 8 nights we spent here.  It's all new concrete roads are wide and pads are strategically placed for spacing.  

And...the oaks are still here.  

We went birding 4 of the 7 days during our visit.  A couple of the days were cold, drizzly, and windy (We don't do cold !).  I have read all of Ingrid's blogs about Rockport so I knew that a pasture near Big Tree was a good place to see Whooping Cranes.  The first time we were there, we did see the stately  Big Tree, but no Whooping Cranes.
Low clouds hiding the sun... 

We rode along the St. Charles Bay.

There are no more docks and piers, but we did see a few birds.  I read that Crested Caracara (in the falcon family) often feed on carrion and will chase vultures away from road kills.  Road kill was present and so were the vultures (quite a few of them).  This Caracara sat for awhile deciding what to do...

...eventually he flew away. Just look at those talons !

Also, hanging out along the shore were...Great Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, a lonely Killdeer and a Greater Yellowlegs.
Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills

Tricolored Heron

Killdeer (a member of the Plover family)

Greater Yellowlegs (in the Sandpiper family)
 We visited the pasture several more times and did see the Whooping Cranes at a distance.  It was a struggle to get pictures of them.  

One day we rode about 18 miles (which includes a free ferry) to Port Aransas.  Port A (as the locals say), is the only established town on Mustang Island.  Our first stop was Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center.   

A damp morning on Port A...

We were reminded that alligators live here too...beware!

After a very short walk, the boardwalk came to an abrupt stop.    
Mornings start out a little foggy here...

We stood for awhile enjoying the Ibis.  It was fun watching this White Ibis try to eat his breakfast of yummy crab...taking one bite at a time...  

 until the immature White Ibis was sure he was invited.  
The Ibis with his catch of the day politely wandered off to a less busy spot.

We did spot a big gator a ways away.  
Click on the picture for better detail.

The next stop was Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond.  This birding spot also had damage prohibiting our view of much of the 2 acre habitat and pond.

We enjoyed a nice walk and picnic at Roberts Point Park before heading home.  It's a nice park with a marina and fishing and a huge grassy area for picnics and playground.

One day after our visit at "the pasture", we stopped at the pier on the south side of the Copano Bay Bridge.  The pier is closed, but there is a path to access the shore.  I had spotted a group of White Pelicans from the bridge as we drove know what that means !

As with most crowds, there is always one in the group that stands out.  Pelicans are no was this fellow that caught my eye.

Our last excursion was aboard the Skimmer with Captain Tommy.  His 3 hour birding journey makes it's way to Aransas NWR.  

Aransas provides a protected habitat for endangered Whooping Cranes as well as many other birds and wildlife.

It was awesome to see several pairs (they mate for life and raise their chicks together) of one of the rarest and largest birds of North America.  

These birds (about 600 of them) that winter on the Texas Gulf will make a 2400 mile trek north to nest in Wood Buffalo National Park in central Canada.  

 Whooping Cranes love blue crabs.  That's a good thing because blue crabs are needed to build up their body resources and reserves for their long journey home and for successful nesting.  Not only are the blue crabs high in protein, but the meat and shells are highly rich in calcium, necessary for strong bones and for forming eggshells. 

An adult crane can eat up to 80 crabs a day.

Not a real clear photo, but we did see an immature Whooper.  According to Capt. Tommy, they are only 4 to 5 months old when they make their first trip south.

We also saw other birds.  American Avocets have the prettiest blue/gray legs and feet. 
Adult non-breeding...a first for us!

 American Oystercatcher (the bird with the red beak) was yet another first sighting.  

Guess what oystercatchers like to eat...duh!  Below they are gathered on a live oyster bed enjoying a mid-morning snack !

That wraps up our time on the Texas Gulf.  It has been a fun adventure full of lots and lots of wonderful birds.  I'm so happy we finally made it here.   

Today was another chilly day with a high of 46 degrees.  It was nice and warm inside our cozy little home.  A great day for puppy snuggles and naps.  Tomorrow will be cleaning and packing day along with some cooking.  Saturday we begin the three day drive to Tucson for doctor visits, MH stuff, and hopefully some fun.    We are looking forward to some warm temps and I can't wait to see the Saguaros. 

So until then, take care and...

Great Blue Heron, St. Charles Bay

Immature White Ibis as Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port A

Ducks at Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond, Port A

Roseate Spoonbills in flight on a foggy morning, Aransas NWR
Aransas NWR

Red-tailed Hawk, Aransas NWR



  1. You managed to capture some very nice photos of a variety of birds. So sad to see the docks and boardwalks destroyed. There used to be two gators at the birding center named "boots and bags". Unfortunately one was discovered in someone's garage after the hurricane - deceased. Safe travels back to the desert!

    1. Thank you Ingrid and a huge thank you for all your wonderful blogs about this’s why we came! We have really enjoyed our time here. So sad about the gator.

  2. I am glad you enjoyed your stay here in the Rockport area.

    1. We can’t say enough about the folks we met friendly and optimistic. And the birds are awesome! Sure hope to return one day!

  3. Love that area around Rock Port have been there many times, was gonna go this year, but after after Harvey we will wait maybe next year, Akkad you enjoy it there.

    1. Everyone is working so hard to rebuild and clean up Rockport. They still have a long way to go! Even so, it has been a fun trip George!

  4. It looked like Rockport has recovered and so happy for you to see the Whooping Cranes and the other birds. Sad to see the boardwalk has not been rebuilt, I spent so many days stalking the birds there.
    We had been in the 80's here in Tucson, so hurry and get away from that cold.

    1. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in Rockport...just this week permanent street lights were being installed along TX-35 Business. I was disappointed about the boardwalk at the birding Center, but so understand the importance of first things first.

      We will be backing into our site at Lazydays on Monday the 12th...yippee!

  5. Lovely photos of your time in the gulf! I got a kick out of the whooping crane with its head in the water! Also the subtle pink of the flying spoonbills on a foggy morning!

  6. Certainly a wonderful stop for bird lovers:) Your photos are spectacular, Gay. So glad you saw my two favorite birds, the roseate spoonbill and the white pelican! The spoonbills look so neat flying overhead. It was a fun sight when we were in Florida. Well, you won't be chilly in Tucson. It has been quite warm since our arrival. We actually had to head up to 7,000 ft for some cooler hiking. See you soon.

  7. Yep we too love the birding along the Texas coast... in the 70's I use to go to Aransas NWR when there were fewer than 100 Whooping Cranes, nice to know they are still recovering...

  8. I love Rockport. Many family memories are from there. I also loved your pictures.