Checking Out Birding Spots in Port Aransas

Tuesday, 28 January
Gulf Waters RV Resort (GWRVR) — Port Aransas, Texas
Temps: LO 34F (1C) / Hi 47F (8C)

You know there’s something wrong with the weather picture when your high temperature is just after midnight, and your low is around 3:00p.  Even the low of 34F (8C) isn’t quite right as the feel-like temperature in Port Aransas for anyone who went outside was actually 24F (-4C).

Rather than stay at home, we used this cold, blustery day to run errands in Corpus Christi.  Since I have nothing exciting to report from either Monday or today, I’ll go back one more day to a weekend outing instead.

Sunday, 26 January

With the sun out and the temperature at a comfortable 63F (17C) shortly after noon, we decided a long walk was in order.  Instead of our usual stroll on the beach, however, we headed into Port Aransas to check out two birding places Tricia at the visitor center had mentioned.  As serious birders know, the mid-day hours are the wrong time to go birding.  As serious photographers know, the mid-day hours are the wrong time to be toting a camera.  No matter; we were out on a recon with the bonus of a leg-stretching stroll.  I didn’t even take my DSLR with me.

Our first stop was the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, which in addition to birds and waterfowl, is home to Boots & Bags, two resident alligators.  Alas, no sign of them while we were there, but I did capture a quick shot of the very rare Alligator Ahmetus Muhittinensis ;-)

Crunch, crunch, slurp, slurp …. Yummm!

The birding center is in the marsh adjacent to a Nueces County water treatment plant.  And the stink that assaults your nostrils when you first arrive let’s you know that you’ve found the right place!  Of course, how bad the smell is depends on the direction of the wind.  By the time we were on the boardwalk leading into the marsh, the smell was tolerable, and at times, non-existent.

The white pelicans stuck close together as they fed on the far side of the marsh.

9-second clip of pelicans feeding en masse.

Aside from the pelicans, the only wildlife we saw in large numbers were American coots and some ducks.  Most of them were hunkered down on a patch of reeds, but a few of them posed nicely for me.

American Coot
”Ooops!  I think I Had an accident!”

Northern Shoveler

Green-Winged Teal

Next, we headed over to Charlie’s Pasture.  Located off TX361, we had plans to stop by this nature preserve each time we drove into Port Aransas.  But we kept missing the turnoff, which is marked by a very small sign.  This time, we made note of a landmark on our way to the birding center so that we wouldn’t drive by the hidden turn.

The turnoff for Charlie’s Pasture is just past this ‘landmark’ when driving from Port Aransas.

There were no other vehicles in the small parking lot when we arrived.  Walking to the signage at the head of the trail, the first thing we learned was that the bigger portion of the 1,217-acre (492 hectares) preserve is accessed from an entirely different part of Port Aransas.  OK — we’ll go there another time!

Left: The preserve is named for Charlie Bujan, who was born on Mustang Island in 1906.
He used to run cattle on this land, which he leased from the State of Texas.

Right: We strolled the boardwalk at Charlie’s Pasture in the lower left section of the map.
the main section of the preserve is at the top of the map.  the Leonabelle Turnbull birding
center is in the middle of the map; there are future plans for a trail connecting the two.

[click either photo for a more legible version]

If we needed any evidence of the drought plaguing Texas, Charlie’s Pasture provided it.  Except for a few places where we saw narrow streams of water flowing in from ponds, the whole place was dry — mushy in some places; totally parched in other places.  The birds were practically non existent, except for a few tiny birds at the end of the boardwalk; some kildeer that were too far to photograph even with my SX50, which is the equivalent of 1200mm at full zoom; and a couple of lesser yellowlegs foraging at the edge of a distant pond.

The boardwalk straddles land that is, with few exceptions, quite dry,

Left: The observation tower would be a good place to keep an eye on birds; but not today.
Right: Yellow-Rumped Warbler [as confirmed by Judy].


Lesser Yellowlegs

Next time we go to either of these places, it will be at a time that is more appropriate for birding and for photography.  In the meantime, we enjoyed our stroll — a change of pace from the beach.


  1. Your warbler looks like a yellow rumped warbler to me. We see a lot of them around here. You can only see the yellow on their rump when they spread their wings. Of course I'm fairly new at this birding thing and I could very possibly be wrong!! I made the ID because of the small yellow shoulder patches and the white bars on the wings. I had a couple of photos of the yellow rumped on my blog yesterday. The caption on the coot made me giggle!

    1. Donna, you're spot on for the ID. Thanks.

    2. I love that first photo. What a hoot!

      Crap...we missed this place when we were down there a few years ago. Always a reason to go back.

  2. Glad you found the trails. Your temperatures were as cold or colder than ours. Brr.

  3. I'm impressed with your bird pictures, even if I can't tell a yellow rumped warbler from a yellow trunked Model A Ford...

  4. So that's what the plane was for, next year we'll have to get out and explore more. Looking forward to the nice days we're suppose to have these next few days.

    1. I'm sure that wrecked plane is for some other purpose, but it did the trick for us ;-)

  5. Looks like you made the most of the cooler weather. Great photos of our feathered friends.

  6. Mr.. M should have quit while he was a head.

  7. The area looks more attractive than I remember:)

  8. Your bird pictures are fantastic. The color and sharpness is amazing. Makes me wish I hadn't posted my greatly inferior ones. Poor Mui being chomped!

  9. Love love those bird pictures. I can't help ogling them over and over again.