Friday, April 9, 2010

Thurs. April 8, 2010 - Aransas Nat'l Wildlife Refuge

We drove the 125 miles south to Aransas Nat'l Wildlife Refuge from Columbus TX...This 115,000 acre refuge complex sprawls mostly across the Blackjack peninsula. Storms and waters of the Gulf of Mexico constantly shape this vital refuge, home to over 400 different bird species.
The drive here was just so pleasing to the eye...everywhere you look there was beauty.
Keith especially liked this plant blooming.

I can't stop myself from taking more photos of flowers.

Don't you just love this color?

From late Oct. to mid-Apr., crane families feed in the saltwater marshes. Often you can see a family of whooping cranes from the 40-foot Observatory Tower, which is equipped with telescopes. This is the view from up there...It was windy, but warm and we did see a pair of whooping cranes but my camera can't show you:(

We took the 16-mile Auto Tour Loop and saw many snakes, deer, alligators, ducks, pelicans, herons, egrets, and more.

This guy was just sunning himself way out in the marsh area. Yes, we were in the car and just 25 ft away.

In the welcome center we saw this baby whooping cute.

Whoopers normally lay two eggs but usually raise only one chick successfully. So, in 1975 scientists and wildlife officials decied to use a new technique to start a second wild whooper flock. Eggs from Canada were taken to Gray's Lake Nat'l Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. They were placed in the nests of sandhill cranes, who raised the chicks as their own. NEAT!

Whooping Cranes, white with black wingtips. Wingspan: 7 ft. Height: 5 ft. Flocks of 2 to 7 sometimes migrate with sandhill cranes.
This year there were 276 whoopers at Aransas. Once nearly extinct, whoopers appear to be on the upswing, from a low of 15 in 1941 to over 450 cranes in North America today. 150 are in captivity. 2010 was a very good year for them. The majority of the 276 left about 2 weeks ago...but you can still see many if you take the boat tour...we didn't have time to do that:(

By 3 p.m. we were starved and went to the suggested Bayside Seafood Rest. for a scrumptious grilled seafood dinner. The birthday boy was very happy:)

Surprise!! the waitress brought this keylime pie for was just what we needed to top off a great meal...and a wonderful day.

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