By: Michael Jewell, Travis Audubon Master Birder
Janel Nye and I had an opportunity to make it to the Whooping Crane Festival in Rockport, Texas this year. We had both been down separately years before and were surprised at the numbers we saw compared to years past.
While we were there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning, our Thursday morning, the first official day of the Festival, was spent on the Skimmer with Captain Ray. A number of people from the International Crane Foundation, savingcranes.org, based in Baraboo, Wisconsin were on board and were quite informative concerning not only Whooping Cranes, but all 15 species of cranes worldwide, many of which are facing an uncertain future.
The best weather day, Wednesday, we spent at Goose Island State Park in The Big Tree area at the pasture across the road. The pond was full of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Roseate Spoonbills, Least Sandpipers, Sandhill Cranes, Willets, Blue-winged Teal, and Snowy Egrets, with Whooping Cranes flying in and out of the area. We even saw an early Scissor-tailed Flycatcher hanging around, and many others species of birds.
Rockport is still bouncing back from Harvey, but many businesses including hotels/motels and restaurants are open for business, just waiting, hoping and needing our business.
It’s hard to beat Rockport– it’s always been one of my favorites places, great birding, food and people, just a little more than a three hour drive, we’ll be down there again soon.