Aranuac National Wildlife Refuge – Texas.

Species seen 72.

My last full day in Texas and a second visit to the Refuge was a very enjoyable one as we met up with Colin Shields a volunteer ranger from the UK whom I met at this year’s Birdfair at Rutland Water. We had an interesting day, with Colin sharing his local familiarity about the birds and the history of the area. It turned out to be a fantastic day with Colin’s knowledge and guiding us to good spots, plus with us providing the air conditioned transport, made for a brilliant days birding.

With my Fiancée chauffeuring us around we all soon started to clock up the species very quickly. On one of the Galveston headlands is the Smiths Point Hawkwatch bird observatory tower. This is a 30 foot tower overlooking the sea and trees on the Gulf Coast. Here we met Tony Leukering a volunteer observer who’s knowledge of the hawks going through was very impressive. There is a link to here in my section of who I follow.

Hawks and Vultures seen here and in the area were Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Common Nighthawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Crested Caracara, Mississippi Kite, Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk and White Tailed Kite.

Taking in the bay waterfronts we saw Black, Forster’s, Royal, and Sandwich Terns. Willet, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Magnificent Frigatebird, Green Heron,
Laughing Gull, Brown Pelican and American Oystercatcher.

Moving inland and stopping at numerous small pools gave us sightings of many other birds. American Coot, Anhinga, Baltimore Oriole, Bank Swallow, Bank/Sand Martin, Black Bellied Whistling Duck, Black crowned Night Heron, Black Necked stilt, Blue Gosbeak, Blue Jay, Blue-winged Teal, Brown-headed Cowbird, Carolina Chickadee, Cattle Egret,

Clapper Rail, Cliff Swallow, Common Grackle, Common Moorhen, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Starling, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Great Blue Heron, Great White Egret, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Little Blue Heron, Loggerhead Shrike, Mourning Dove, Neotropic Cormorant, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pied-billed Grebe (with chicks) Purple Gallinule, Purple Martin, Red-winged Blackbird, 

Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Snowy Egret, Spotted Sandpiper, Tricoloured Heron, White Ibis, White-winged Dove, Wood Stork and Yellow Crowned Night Heron.
Before leaving the refuge we went in search of Kingfishers as “Belted” was on my wish list. 

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any, however as with all the places visited, there is always a chance of seeing Alligators and here was no exception with two lying together on a bank.

On leaving to return to Houston we boarded the Galveston ferry for the last time and again saw Dolphins during the crossing along with Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull and Black Terns. The last bird 

of note was an Osprey, the perfect end to a memorable days birding. Sadly this was the end to our trip as we heading back to the UK the following day. I will certainly be planning another trip sometime in the future which will be around April time to see the many migrants that visit the Gulf Coast.

Hummingbirds from the Smiths Point Tower.


Ragged Robin said...

What a wonderful trip and a great selection of birds :) Especially loved the Hummingbirds and Alligators - great photos :) Thanks so much for sharing.

Central Birder said...

Thanks Caroline, it was as the say in Texas "AWESOME" I am going to go again but next time in the spring, I'm not sure when, but it's well worth another trip and the 10 hour flight!

Have you managed to get to Brandon recently?