Checking Out The Whoopers

Today was a day to catch up a bit since the weather is cool and rainy, so we drove into Rockport for some groceries and way too much bird feeding gear and supplies. We also picked up some comfort food (apple turnover, cinnamon roll etc) to get us through the morning.

Returning, we invited our neighbor, Gail from Nova Scotia, over for coffee and goodies. I am often surprised about the backgrounds of fellow campers: it turns out Gail is a recently-retired psychologist who specialized in dealing with special needs kids and who now is traveling the U.S. in an old VW camper, teaching herself to paint watercolors, while her husband tends the fort at home including caregiving for an aging parent. Good conversation, calories, and caffeine made for a nice late morning in spite of the weather.

One of the things you do at Goose Island is to check out the Whooping Cranes who return to some ranchers’ fields (where they are fed) just north of the park. Mary and I (and of course, Penny) motored up there this afternoon and sure enough, there were five Whoopers and about 32 Sandhill Cranes.  Here are a few shots that I took with freezing fingers in a minor gale.

The  Whooping Crane flock journeys 2,500 miles south from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to Texas.

The Whooping Crane flock journeys 2,500 miles south from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to Texas.

About thirty Sandhill Cranes are also enjoying the local hospitality.

About thirty Sandhill Cranes are also enjoying the local hospitality.

Not to be outdone by exotic visitors, a couple of elegant Great Blue Herons also grace the field.

Not to be outdone by exotic visitors, a couple of elegant Great Blue Herons also graced the field.

Whoopers and Sandhills often feed together here, providing a nice comparison of size and marking differences.

Whoopers and Sandhills often feed together here, providing a nice comparison of size and marking differences.

It’s great to see the cranes each year after their long return from up north.  They are a wonderful success story.  Like the Peregrine Falcon, the Bald Eagle, the Osprey, and several other species, they remind us that we can succeed with conserving threatened species, but it takes lots of effort and more vision and leadership than we often see these days in the halls of our public servants. These elegant survivors give us hope.

This entry was posted in Goose Island State Park, migration, Southwest trip 5, Texas birding, Texas birds, Winter2015 Trip. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Checking Out The Whoopers

  1. Ginny Alfano says:

    Beautiful photos of both Cranes. I love the first one – so elegant. Great commentary as well. Via your travels, both you and your fellow Vermonter, Bryan Pfeiffer, provide us with a wonderful break from windchills of -25. Thank you!

  2. Dick says:

    I used to feel a bit guilty about leaving my native Vermont behind but we have “been there, done that’ and now just take off. We commiserate when it is -25 and icy but vicariously enjoy the ‘blue skies, green wax” days that you’ll have up ahead.

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