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2021-03-12 Friday at Aransas NWR

Sedge Wren - Cistothorus platensis
Until this morning, I’d never met the Sedge Wren. I’m no stranger to Aransas NWR, but I seem to have happy surprises whenever I visit. With weather warming, on this tour I met snakes, pigs, and Sedge Wrens.
Crested Caracara - Caracara cheriway
When I pass the Oak Sanctuary, I usually see these snags filled with vultures. Today the caracara was my parting gift as I exited the reserve. 

Camped only five miles away in Austwell (Texas), an excursion into Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was mandatory. With the recent stories of my journey here already told, it was time for a new adventure.

Overcast skies continued during this visit, but there were clear signs of spring. The warmer weather had snakes sunning themselves on the road. Twice I had to stop and encourage the legless reptiles to seek safety in the grass and brush at the roadside. Singing passerines serenaded from deep within the thorny bushes. Cardinals were the first to raise their voices in song, but when I heard White-Eyed Vireos at the Big Tree Tower, I knew spring had sprung here.

A highlight for me was meeting a Sedge Wren along the trail through Heron Flats. It was my first encounter with the species. I’ve hiked this trail on previous visits. I’ve even had more birdy mornings here. Meeting these shy wrens for the first time was worth the price of admission.

I’ve never failed to meet White-Tailed Deer here. Often they’ve boldly remained grazing at the roadside as I drove by. With so many of these ungulates on the reserve, I wondered where all the predators were. Surely big cats must roam this peninsula.

As I was leaving Heron Flats, I almost missed a squadron of Javelina as they grazed in the brushy roadside. I’d barely gotten out of the parking area when I spotted them. Feral pigs run through these woods. I’ve seen them on previous visits. I much prefer the peccaries over the invasive pigs.

My last gift, as I was leaving the reserve, was a Crested Caracara perched on a high snag at the Oak Sanctuary, where I often see mobs of vultures lined up on the bare branches looming over the nearby canopy of oaks and thorny brush. I found a convenient parking spot at the side of the road and pulled in to observe the bird on its perch. My presence did not bother this raptor, as shown by its one-legged stance on the branch. I waited for the bird to launch and it rewarded me by allowing me to capture its takeoff.

There was another aspect of my visit I found most enjoyable. I met another team of full-time RVers with a love of nature. Tom and Lisa proved to be seasoned veterans of the RV lifestyle with a dedication to boondocking their way through the country as they travelled. We exchanged information and I have hopes that our paths will cross again in the future.

My visit with nature here was not a long one this day, but I enjoyed meeting American Alligators, Belted Kingfishers, Black-Bellied Plovers, Collared Peccaries, a Crested Caracara, Pied-Billed Grebes, Sedge Wrens, Western MeadowLarks, and White-Tailed Deer.

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