Of course, we had to explore where we were staying, on Padre Island, except we drove North onto Mustang Island and got a lovely wildlife surprise...
|We walked this seawall at the end of Mustang Island in Port Aransas, near the Nature Area. And immediately noticed bottlenose dolphins, literally under our feet.|
|Nearly every wire post or fence post had a vulture perched atop it. Many giving off super goth vibes, like this black vulture.|
|This great blue heron was fishing next to a man who was fishing. Like as if they were talking up their latest catch or gossiping about their local rival fisherman....|
|It also didn't seem to mind other folks just walking by.|
|Through the fog, I spotted a lovely group of sandhill cranes sharing a field with cattle.|
They also shared it with egrets, ibis, spoonbill, yellowlegs, gadwall, blue-wing teal, killdeer, and even one long-billed curlew!
|Goth turkey vulture over a spooky foggy field and barb wire fence.|
This bird knows how to pick its scenery!
|A local dock was not for boats, but for American White Pelicans.|
|A whooping crane is our tallest bird in North America, standing nearly 5 feet tall, the sandhill crane is a bit shorter (left) at 3.5-4ft tall.|
|Just when I thought things were going great... whoopers, the fog lifting... then a flock of black-bellied whistling ducks flew in! How much better could this day get?!|
(spoiler: it gets better)
|These dapper looking ducks are often heard before seen. They fly in whistling just like their name says. They stand on tall pink legs to match that vivid pink bill, they are lovely ducks.|
|Some turkey vulture detail.|
|I don't care about other folks' opinions on vultures, I think this is a beautiful bird. Beautifully adapted also, to its important job of scavenging.|
|Got a less foggy picture before heading up to Aransas and discovered...|
|A banded bird! I reported it to USGS here.|
And I got back the report:
|I didn't think we'd see any armadillos, but this place was CRAWLING with them!|
|But what Aransas is REALLY known for -- that face! Whoopers!|
|They mostly walked around, drank some water, and pretty much owned the place.|
|Roseate spoonbills also shared this field with the whooping cranes that towered over them.|
|Damn, I love this bird so much.|
|And as we were ready to check out another spot, so were they. They spread those massive wings and soared down to the furthest section of the field.|
Thank you, Cranes, for such a special experience!
|Saw a few Couch's Kingbirds all around making funny noises and going after insects.|
|Northern pintail tails!|
|And now, the whole duck!|
|And then someone else joined the vultures.|
|Crested Caracaras are somehow related to falcons. They don't look much like one - but they are totally amazing looking.|
|Saw these birds a lot on the road, while driving, so it was really nice that this bird flew in and landed in a nice spot, directly in front of us.|
The birds in Texas are just so kind!
|Saw some deer as we concluded our visit. This is the only one who didn't run in front of our car.|
A very successful visit and an incredibly memorable one at that!