Friday we drove to the Texas Gulf Coast and visited the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. What a great day we had! All of the travel was on non-interstate roads. That means two-lane roads with little or no shoulder. And often the speed limit is 65 or 70 mph. There are interstate highways with speed limits of only 55. But the good side is that most of the time we were the only car on the road. Once and a while we did encounter some farm machinery, like this ... whatever it is.
As we drove down the last section of road before the wildlife area, we saw a wild hog. They are large and ugly. No picture, though. I didn't have the camera out at that point. We had seen them several years ago when we were hosting in a Texas State Park. And the visitor center at the wildlife area had some information about them.
Since we were right on the Gulf Coast, the roads in the wildlife area are fairly flat and we were able to bike the 10-mile round trip route to a viewing platform. There is also the choice of a 16-mile loop road, but we had other things we wanted to do that day, as well, so we just rode the 10 miles. It is very difficult to bike with a camera and long lens around my neck, so I took very few pictures. Along the way we saw an armadillo, white tailed deer, a snake, a turkey, a cardinal and either Eastern Bluebirds or Indigo Buntings. Once we came around a corner and several bright blue birds flew away. I didn't get a close enough view to see what they were, but both of these blue birds are present on the Texas Gulf Coast and there are bluebird boxes around the wildlife area.
Near the observation tower we played hide and seek with this small alligator.
It was in shallow water and alternately showed most of its body and went down into the water so only the head and eyes showed. It turned to keep an eye on us.
A flock of 200 endangered Whooping Cranes winters on the Aransas wildlife refuge. They leave by mid-April to their summer nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. The best way to see them during the winter is from boat tours out of nearby Rockport. One pair is usually visible from the Observation Tower. I did get this picture of a white bird from the tower. I don't really know if it is a Whooping Crane or not, since it is now late April. But it is an impressive bird.
The forests all around this area are full of live oaks. They seem to present a great home for birds, one that provides lots of protection from prying human eyes. We hear lots of birds, but don't see many.
We really enjoyed the wildlife refuge and would like to return. We are thinking about volunteering there in the winter in a couple of years.
After our bike ride, we drove to Rockport. It is a busy seaside town with lots of shops and big-box stores. We had lunch at this BBQ restaurant. We came to Texas to eat BBQ and this was our first opportunity. It was OK.