My solo road trip to Port Aransas on the Gulf Coast of Texas was planned around the whooping crane festival in February. I didn’t see any whooping cranes but I did see plenty of brown pelicans in Port Aransas Texas. I visited the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas and was surrounded by some serious birders.
The eastern brown pelican has been listed as an endangered species since 1970. The same year DDT was banned in the USA. The insecticide had a devastating effect on the populations of the brown pelican as well as large birds of prey such as the bald eagle. DDT was used to control mosquitoes along the Texas Gulf Coast. Plankton absorbed DDT – fish ate the plankton – birds ate the fish – birds laid thin-shelled eggs that broke before the embryo could mature and hatch. The pelican population has recovered substantially since the ban of DDT.
Brown pelicans have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.45 meters) and a bill measuring in at 18 inches(46 cm) – along with a distinctive pouch they make an impressive sight. They look quite elegant while soaring through the air of floating on the water but when pelicans are on land they take on a rather comical appearance.
I love that the pelicans basically pose for the camera. They are chill and relaxed while hanging out on the jetty at Port Aransas. It was fun to see the pelicans up close and have a look at some of their physical features like their large webbed feet.
I drove to Padre Island one afternoon to check out the birding situation there. It was windy and the waves were crashing into the beach. I saw several flocks of pelicans and other sea birds flying overhead but for the most part it was just me and the waves. I enjoyed a solitary walk along the beach.
I also took a boat from Port Aransas to San José Island just a few minutes away. I heard there was some good beach combing there and I will write about that soon. For now just have a look at the most interesting item that washed up on the beach – Portuguese Man ‘O War. Beautiful and most interesting to look at – but do not touch! The venom is still active for up to several days even after the organism has died. Fascinating creatures!
I will leave you with one last pelican photo. There were several people taking photos of this pelican and he seemed to be posing for all of us. Such a friendly fellow!
While I did not see the whooping cranes in Port Aransas I did enjoy my weekend getaway. I ate a feast at Roosevelt’s at the Tarpon Inn and walked miles along the beach to work off all those calories. On my way home from Port Aransas I drove through Rockport so I could have a look at the oldest oak tree in Texas – known as The Big Tree.
Port Aransas is well known for deep-sea fishing and bird watching. For more information about visiting Port Aransas check out the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce website.