Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Off to see the “Big Tree” in Goose Island State Park, and hopefully see some whooping cranes that are in the area from late October to mid-April.  The big tree is the second largest tree in the U.S., 11 feet across the trunk, 35 feet around, and 44 feet tall, 89 feet across the crown, and the most amazing fact is the tree is 1,000 years old.   We did not see any whooping cranes around Goose Island so we headed for Aransas Wildlife Refuge

 

as National Wildlife Refuge.   Aransas hosts the largest flock of wintering whooping cranes in North America with over 250 birds. By mid-April they depart for a hazardous journey of 2,500 miles to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada.

Even with 250 birds in the area one is still lucky to see cranes feeding in the marshy salt flats in the refuge, and we were indeed fortunate.  We took off on the Heron Flats trail and spotted a pair feeding.  Whooping cranes being 60 inches tall and with white feathers were easy to spot against the green/brown marshes.  The birds were elegant and gorgeous, a thrilling experience.  Luckily Lonnie had his camera because I forgot mine and when I walked back (a very short distance) to get my camera the birds had flown away by the time I returned.  And added plus on the walk down the trail we spotted a few alligators sunning themselves on the shore line.  The park rangers told us to keep Vegas on a short leash because the alligators like puppy dogs for snacks.  So glad the gators kept their distance.

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