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2021-03-02 Tuesday Morning At Aransas NWR

Crested Caracara - Caracara cheriway
Caracaras flew in while I was working on the vultures. Monday I took a quick tour at Aransas NWR. It was windy and raining, and so I kept my camera gear stowed in the RV, but I climbed the Big Tree Tower and saw lots of Black and Turkey Vultures perched in the trees below the tower. With better weather on Tuesday, I set out to capture some closeups.

Sunday I left Port Aransas and drove to Rockport and boondock camped there. Monday I confirmed the availability of RV parking near Aransas NWR, in Austwell. I drove through the wind and rain to settle in for a few days and ride out the winter storm. After getting my RV spot established, there was still time to drive onto Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and scout out the action. It was still windy and raining, and so I kept my camera gear stowed in the RV, but I climbed the Big Tree Tower and saw lots of Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures perched in the trees below the tower. 

With better weather on Tuesday, I set out to capture some closeups. Vultures may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but the tower provided a vantage point at eye-level or above the subjects, and I looked forward to the unique perspective. I don’t see Black Vultures as often as I do Turkey Vultures, and I looked forward to gathering images that did not require me to look up.

There are plenty of White-Tailed Deer on the reserve. As I drove down the park road, a trio of them grazed at the roadside and refused to run off when I drove up. They were so close I had to pull out my camera and shoot from the driver’s window. Head-shots were the easiest to capture, so I helped myself.

When I reached the Big Tree Tower, I carried my gear up the long series of inclined ramps and when I neared the top, I realized a Black Vulture was perched on a binocular viewing stand on the observation deck. I slowed my advance and focused on the birds in the tall trees. Every few minutes I moved further to the top deck and when I reached the last incline, I started shooting the bird on the deck. I inched ever forward, taking more shots as I advanced. When I was about 15 feet from the bird, and getting only head-shots, another vulture bolted from its perch in a nearby tree and spooked my subject.

While I was working on the vultures, a pair of Crested Caracaras sailed in to perch on the treetops in front of me. These were a gift I’d not expected, but happily, I collected a few images of them too. From my perch on the tower, I could see Whooping Cranes in the distance. But they were so far away, there would be no point in attempting to capture a photo, so I passed on the opportunity.

My excursion was brief, and I only photographed five species, but the images I gathered over the treetops were a joy to capture. The species I caught on this morning were Black Vulture, Crested Caracara, Pied-Billed Grebe, Turkey Vulture, and White-Tailed Deer.

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