Monday, April 23, 2018

The Wildlife Refuge

After our fishing trip and some lunch, we drove to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. It wasn't a far drive, but the Texas scenery was interesting. Everything is so flat! The park itself was practically empty. We stopped at the visitor's station to pay the entrance fee and see what information they could offer about the park. They were not collecting fees, but the lady working in the office was extremely friendly and helpful.

We enjoyed our time exploring the park! We found several alligators, some still with their stripes. We saw lots of birds, including a family of whooping cranes way off in the distance. We didn't see any snakes, but we did see some lizards and a tree frog. We also saw some wild pigs, deer, and an armadillo. Danielle and Ron saw a javelina. Tyler and I think we saw a coyote. We're not sure what else it could have been, but it didn't look like the coyote in our area. There were lots of wildflowers, but they were everywhere in Texas, not just in the park.

American coot and a pied billed grebe

American green tree frog

Little blue heron

Least grebe

Green anole

Danielle and I would have liked to go back to the refuge at a different time of day to take the auto tour again, but we just didn't have enough days to fit everything in. We enjoyed our afternoon here!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Our SB Vacation

We took a "deep sea" fishing trip through Dolphin Dock in Port Aransas one morning. I wouldn't really consider it "deep sea", but it certainly went much further out than we could reach on our own. Their building was wiped out by Harvey, so they were operating from a trailer while their new building was being rebuilt.

The four of us outfished everyone on the boat. Ron caught the most with 22. We mostly caught gafftopsail catfish. We didn't want to keep that many fish, so they put some of ours on other people's stringers. We still ended up with way more than everyone else. We caught a lot of fish that weren't keepers, too.

Our stringer is the one in the middle, the biggest one.

The lady beside me kept getting her line caught on everyone around her, including me, so that was a little annoying. Other than that, it was a really fun trip. The weather was decent, the fish kept biting, there were a lot of dolphins to watch, and the crew was helpful and friendly.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beach Time

We visited a few beaches while in the area. We went to Rockport Beach the afternoon after we did the whooping crane tour. There was a long fishing pier that the boys tried. I think they caught a couple things, but nothing memorable. The wind was really strong that day, and it was not very relaxing. The sand at Rockport Beach was more like gravel. That was also where Danielle stepped on a cactus. So, all in all, we really didn't care for that beach.

One day we drove down to Padre Island National Seashore. We visited the much quieter northern part of the seashore. We had hoped to drive down the beach several miles to get to the best areas for shells, but our rental truck did not have 4 wheel drive. There was also no cell service and very few people, so we didn't feel like it would be a very good idea. The first few miles are hard packed sand, so we did drive a little way out. It was high tide when we were there, so there wasn't a lot of room on the section of the beach we could reach by truck. Danielle and I walked a good ways while the boys fished in the surf. We didn't find much but the scenery was pretty and the company was good. The wind was still pretty strong, and there was a rip current warning. It was very secluded, though, and was a nice beach to visit for a few hours. Having a 4 wheel drive would have made this beach much more enjoyable. We checked out a couple inland freshwater areas along the seashore, too.



Our favorite beach was probably Port Aransas Beach. We went there a couple times. The quickest way to get to Port Aransas from where we were staying was by taking the ferry. The ferry was free and ran 24/7. There were 5 ferry docks and we never had to wait too long. Port Aransas is one of those little touristy golf cart towns. I can see how it could be very busy in the summer. We seemed to vacation there at a perfect time because we really never had to wait for much of anything or worry about crowds. I especially enjoyed the last afternoon we spent here. I sat on our blanket and watched Ron fish in the surf and listened to the kids laugh together as they explored the beach. It was a good mom moment.




Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our SB Vacation

We were in that part of Texas at the right time of year to see the whooping cranes in their wintering grounds in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. It is estimated that there are only around 400 whooping cranes, give or take a hundred, left in the world. That includes both cranes in the wild and in captivity.

We booked a tour that would take us into the wildlife refuge via the bay. The boat was able to get to places we could not visit on our own. We saw a ton of different species of birds. We also saw at least 40 whooping cranes. The captain knew his stuff and was a good source of information about the local birds. We also saw several dolphin. We had to wait until we drove through the park later in the week to see the other wildlife. Here are some pictures from our tour.
Short billed dowitchers

Reddish egret

Black bellied plover in his winter plumage (I think)

American avocets

whooping crane

Roseate spoonbill

Snowy egrets, American avocets, & spoonbill

Lesser yellowlegs & whooping crane

Black necked stilt & spoonbill

Juvenile ibis & mottled duck

whooping crane

Juvenile whooping crane with an eel

Juvenile whooping crane with an eel


American oystercatchers

Brown booby

Danielle was the only one who seemed noticeably bored at one point. We sat at the top of the boat with the captain and a couple people who were with a conservation group. Everyone else sat in the cabin below, so it was almost like we had the boat to ourselves. We got back around lunch time and walked next door for lunch on the back patio. We amused ourselves with the barstools. It was a good trip.