Memories of Rockport Texas

My adventures in Rockport preceded my first expedition to south Texas, and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic that would dominate our society one week later.

On 2020-03-16, I drove to the city of Rockport after leaving from my second day at Aransas, and prepared for the boat ride I’d signed up for, which would launch from nearby Fulton Beach the next morning.

After running a few errands and doing some grocery shopping, I continued exploring Rockport. I was winging it and I did not know what I may find. I discovered a roadway next to Little Bay with a wide pullout that looked like a splendid place to stay for the evening. I thought I was done taking pictures this day, but Laughing Gulls who I’d seen all around the area, were perched on a split-rail fence and posing nicely. As I was new to this region and to Texas, I hadn’t captured images of these birds yet, and I felt compelled to take some pictures. Then I noticed that the trees behind the fence were full of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets building nests atop a nearby stand of oaks, so more pictures had to be taken. I later learned some of the history of this area, and that the city fathers named it the Bent Oaks Rookery Park. The herons and egrets in attendance were busy gathering nesting material and performing territorial and pair-bonding dances. I gathered images until the light began failing.

The next day, I boarded the good ship Skimmer and enjoyed a marvelous three-hour cruise and meeting the Whooping Cranes in their winter haunts. When the tour was finished, I said my goodbyes to the Skimmer and her crew in Fulton Beach. I fully expected to settle in somewhere nearby in my RV, and get down to processing my ever-growing image collection, and sharing them and their stories on my website. I found a “quiet” place in Rockport next to Little Bay and parked. As luck would have it, there was a gated pier on to Little Bay near my chosen sanctuary, with some interesting birds on the dock and on the nearby water. What harm could there be in taking a few more photos? I opened the side door of the van, sat in the doorway, and started taking pictures. An hour and a half passed and over 1000 times I pressed the shutter. I just couldn’t stop myself while the light held, and the subjects posed.

As I began photographing the pelicans, cormorants and gulls on the water, and the turnstones on the dock, I noticed that tall waders were fishing from a point on the shore a few yards to my left. There were some tense moments on the beach when more than one large bird landed near the other, and conflicts erupted. The Snowy Egret was especially intolerant of the Tricolored Heron who wanted a place to try his fishing skills. Eventually, everyone got a turn.

The Texas wind raised a lot of chop on the water and the Black Skimmers weren’t able to glide over a glassy surface, and those long graceful passes with their lower mandible slicing the surface were not possible. Yet they still worked their craft through the choppy water, even if it meant crashing into a wave once in a while. Undeterred, when a crash plucked them from their aerial regimen, they rose again and resumed their patrol.

My experiences here taught me that birding is where you find it. Such places don’t always show up in brochures.

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