Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Part 2, Birding at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Barb drove their jeep and Dan and I sat with our cameras in our laps. Usually there are raptors on many of the electrical poles but we never saw a single one . Arriving at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge we stopped at the new refuge headquarters. Renita posed next to a life size statue of a whooping crane, for scale but there were no other displays. Apparently they were still finishing them so hopefully we will see them when we come back in the fall. Leaving the headquarters, we next drove to Jones lake. A flock of blue winged teals
took off as we walked out onto the platform.
Feral hogs were rooting up the grass in the distance and a deer grazed as an alligator swam towards us.
A pair of pied bill grebes exhibited their courtship dance, not caring the least about us taking images.
A bird was singing and using the Merlin app it identified the song as from a white eyed vireo. Later I got a great image of a white eyed vireo as we walked the Heron Flats Trail.
From Jones Lake our next stop was at the Observation Towers where, as usual we saw a family of whooping cranes several miles away.
Its their usual territory and if you want to see them up close you need to take a cruise on the Skimmer, which is a great birding adventure!
Several black vultures at on a tree top and taking the boardwalk out to the bay, we were rewarded with shots of a great blue in flight,
and a white morph great blue heron.
We watched as a shore bird found and tried to devour a small blue crab.
It seemed to be bothered by its small claws and eventually gave up its meal plans. Driving the eleven mile road we hoped to see a nesting pair of bald eagles but they had abandoned the nest.
After the Eleven mile road we stopped for lunch at the picnic area and then drove to the Heron Flats Trail. A reddish egret exhibited it “drunken walk”, as it hunted and caught a crawfish,
(which it had a heck of a time swallowing). Most herons and egrets slowly wade as they fish but the reddish egret, including a white morph will run erratically after it spots its prey. A brown pelican flew by.
Its hard to believe that the birds almost went extinct due to the widespread use of DDT. A book describng the bird loss came out in the sixties, titled Silent Spring. A large group of rosette spoonbills slept on a small island sharing their resting spot with a couple of double crested cormorants and a snowy egret.
Our last bird of the day was one we had already spotted. It was a flight picture of a lesser yellowlegs.
It was a great picture to end the day. Thanks for driving Barb! Clear skies As usual my identification of several of the birds may be wrong so if you disagree, please comment.

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