Thursday, March 13, 2014

Roadside Birding along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail

Birds aren't only to be found at the sites listed on the maps.  Keep your eyes peeled as you travel and you may be rewarded with some special finds.  

It's maybe a little gross, but I couldn't resist the urge to photograph the vultures feasting on a carcass.  There was not yet an offending odor, so they must have made quick work of discarding fresh roadkill.  Though Turkey Vultures are featured here, both species were present.  I'd heard that Black Vultures were a bit more shy.  I didn't realize to what extent until I studied my pictures.  They were always in the background and never perched atop their meal.  They did feed at the same time as the Turkey Vultures, but from the side, always ready to make a quick getaway.

I saw Sandhill Cranes by the dozens when I reached an agricultural area.  After passing a 3rd field full of feeding cranes, I told myself, "If I see one more flock, it's an omen.  I must stop."

According to this chart, a group of cranes is actually a herd.  I did not know that until today.      

Shortly before arriving at the Port Aransas NWR, I found a skein of Snow Geese.  Distinguished from Ross's Geese by their black "grinning patch" they can be blue-morphs or white-morphs.  Both are pictured here.  There is one adult and one juvenile blue-morph in the center.

Is skein correct?  They are a skein in flight, a wedge in V formation, and a gaggle on water.  What are geese in a cow pasture called?    

Last, but definitely not least, were the Whooping Cranes I found on day 2 of my trip to Rockport.  In fact, my best view of these birds was from the side of the road - better than I had at the wildlife refuge by far.

One word of caution:  Never, ever stop without first checking the rear-view mirror.  There are folks who will insist on riding your bumper no matter how fast or slow you are driving regardless of whether they've had the opportunity to pass.  

I'm linking to my favorite meme:  Wild Bird Wednesday.  Please visit to see more amazing birds from around the world.


  1. How awesome to get shots of the whooping crane! And that turkey vulture had himself quite a large meal.

  2. awesome to see the cranes and snow geese! i personally like vultures and my dogs have eaten a lot worse than a fresh kill. :)

    yes, i've kept a count. 92 different bird species seen here at run*a*round so far. not counting flyovers of pelicans and various geese - they have to stop in. :)

  3. I've always considered vultures nature's clean up crew and they prevent diseases. Great series of photos!

  4. Here on the coast in Andalucia we mainly get just seagulls and the odd Hoopoe visitor from Morocco, definitely no vultures (they stick to inland where there's more 'food' for them!

    Superb captures.

  5. I love the Snow Geese picture because although they are known to turn up in the UK, it's only ever one or two.

  6. I love the cranes, cool sightings.. The Snow geese are on the move around here.. Great post and photos, Jen! Have a happy weekend!

  7. Wonderful, what matters is photographing nature!

  8. You are so right about checking the rear view mirror!
    «Louis» wishes he could make a flashing electric sign for which he could push a button and it would pop up at the back of his car and signal the vehicle behind: BACK OFF, BOZO! :-)

  9. The Whooping Cranes look like a parade. :) Nice shots.

  10. Great pictures of great birds - I love the vulture on the carcass!

    Finding names for groups of people is very hard - apparently "Anasazi " is derived from words that mean "our old enemy" (or something like that) and it's not favoured. All in all its a bit of a nightmare!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. Oh makes me so happy to see all these birds and revisit memories....birding is better in and around Port A than anywhere. I loved it there. We took a whooping crane charter boat out to some island where we did see a lot of them and then the next week saw some (for free, my husband pointed out) beside the road. .

    The pictures of the vultures doing what vultures do is OK with me; they have an important job in this world and somebirdy has to do it!

  12. I LIVE in the coastal area of Texas and LOVE birding!!!
    I hope, when you post other bird photos you've captured, that you share your link on my birding blog that opens with new linking on EACH Saturday 12PM Texas Time Zone.

    Your birding photos [even the vultures] are superb!!! They're part of life's cycle so not gross to me at all.

    Oh, and by the way...the Birding Blog I have with linking is called "I'd Rather B Birdin'" and the link is here:

    Come join anytime!!

    1. PS...I just grabbed your blog url/address and will add you to my blog reading list so I won't miss another post of your birding experiences!!! [Google Friends is no working right now, so I'll try and add myself to become a follower when I can get it to take]...I use my reading list mostly anyway.

  13. Great sightings and shots, especially love the whooping cranes. The vulture is also great at clean-up and the world is better because of them.