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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Six Day Texas Trip (1 Viewer)

SueO

Well-known member
February 8-13
I needed to get away and spend some quality time with Mother Nature, so I started looking for birding places to visit. I didn't want to be too cold. I came upon Texas and the Whooping Cranes, and I knew I found my destination. Originally, I was thinking of a road trip, but decided Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was a bit far. It would take 4 or 5 days to get there...then I'd have to come back. So, I booked a flight into San Antonio and a room in Rockport and rented a car.

Incredulously, my cheapo small car didn't have a navigation system on it. I figured all cars today had those. My car is a 2011 and it has one. It did have a communications screen and supposedly one could hook a phone to it and navigate that way. Uh oh. I use my phone for calls and texting. Period. I haven't been on BF for awhile, but those with long memories will remember that I have referred to myself as, Wilma Flintstone in the past. I am still she.

I brought a paper map and planned out a course. Rockport was only about 2 and a half hours from San Antonio, how hard could that be? I knew it would be dark by the time I got there, and decided I did not want to drive through Corpus Christi and a bridge to get to Rockford, so I decided to turn off the main Hwy 37 just south of Mathis and get there via St. Hwy188. It didn't take me long to figure out that I had to get over my electronic connection fear/phobia/ignorance thing and somehow connect my phone to the Toyota commuter computer. It wasn't dark yet, but I knew that once it was, I'd be up a creek because I was out in the boonies. I got things connected and thought I had things right, but there was no female 'Hal' talking to me.

The sun went down and all I saw in the deepest dark was the yellow-orange reflectors on the road and a feeble half dome of light in front of the car. It seemed as though I had been driving for three days without seeing anything and I was beginning to get a bit worried about finding my way, when suddenly a calming voice told me that in 1/4 of a mile, I was to turn left. To say I was relieved would be an understatement.

By 6 the next morning, I was on my way to the refuge. I found the Whooper, but it was too far away to really 'see'. By then, the visitors center was open and half my blood was drained by the mosquitos. I really was dense enough to think that since it was winter, mozzies wouldn't be a problem. I bought some spray and some lucky bird socks at the gift shop and chatted with the lady while she rang things up. She told me I should go to the 'Big Tree' in Goose Island Park to see the birds. I didn't stay at the refuge and take my time birding. No, I was on a nearly fanatical mission to see a Whooping Crane; I found them and had wonderful views. They were in a field with Sandhill Cranes and Roseate Spoonbills. By this time, I was hungry and found Stevie Lew's BBQ on the way back to the hotel. I mentioned I had just seen the Whoopers and tomorrow would be looking for an Aplomado Falcon. The host knew exactly where I was planning to go and advised me to take the ferry to Mustang Island rather than drive into Corpus Christi.

Next morning I woke at my own rhythm. I was tired and didn't get out until 9:30. Took the easy and free ferry and drove down the Island to find the falcon. I knew from prior reading that the Mustang Island State Park, the Peregrine Fund and Us Fish and Wildlife were working together to help increase these beautiful birds.

News Release: May 22, 2020: Endangered Aplomado Falcon Chicks Banded at Mustang Island State Park

I found a platform with two birds perched. I have wanted to see an Aplomado for years, so I was very happy with the day. I drove back toward Rockport and stopped along to way to bird at a few of the numerous 'Birding Trail' sites which were clearly marked with distinctive signs.

I will continue this long-winded story later, but for now, I'll cut to the chase and post my trip's bird list.

*Lifer

Gadwall
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Redhead
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormornat
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Black-crowned Night Heron
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Aplomado Falcon*
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Whooping Crane*
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Willet
Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Dowitcher
Forster's Tern
Eurasian Collared Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Kiskadee
Couch's Kingbird*
Loggerhead Shrike
White-eyed Vireo*
Green Jay*
Verdin (juvenile)? Can't think what else it could be. Very small bird, slender and grey. About the size of my Allen's Hummingbirds at home. Only saw for a heartbeat, but I saw it well, and couldn't find again. It was in a very tangled (but bare) bunch of bushes. It was crazy I couldn't find it again. It's on the bird list for the Refuge (which is where I saw it) but listed as rare.
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Long-billed Thrasher*
Sprague's Pipit*
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellow-throat
Savannah Sparrow
House Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
 

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Happy you got both the crane and the falcon. Sounds like a great trip - so far.
 
I can happily relate to your I.T. / tech difficulties Sue :)-. At least you worked it out!

Great birding so far and a nice report. Long-billed Thrasher.........very nice bird!
 

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