Thursday’s photo shoot on the Intracoastal Waterway presented me with lots of photo opportunities. My favorite encounter was with the dolphins. They were everywhere that day and Chris would slow or stop the boat to keep up with the dolphins who would surface and dive and emerge hundreds of feet away in a completely different direction than expected. When we started back in mid afternoon we came across a pod of dolphins that cavorted in and around our boat for close to half an hour. The encounter ended when another, much larger, pleasure boat, slowly made its way by us; the dolphins played in the wake at the front of that boat. What fun to watch. I didn’t get many good shots of that event but thought the photo of the people photographing the dolphins was interesting. The dolphins were so close that we could hear them breathe and exhale through their spouts and when they swam in unison directly toward our boat, we didn’t know what to expect. What an exciting afternoon. It was indeed the day of the dolphin. And a wonderful end to my trip to Port Aransas, Texas.
Thursday, was my last full day in Port Aransas, and Susan and Chris took me out on the Intracoastal Waterway in their boat. The unseasonably cold weather makes for poor fishing whether I’m in the boat or not so the day was devoted to searching the waterways for interesting photo opportunities for me. I found plenty.
I took so many photos that I decided to make separate posts of the different types of wildlife that I encountered. My first post features the different osprey we encountered. All were perched and watching for something to eat and each took to the air while we watched. I had my D7100 with the 70-200mm lens attached but I had removed the 2X teleconverter before we left home and regretted my decision. We got fairly close but I still had to crop these shots. These are my favorite osprey shots from Thursday.
We decided it was too chilly to walk Wednesday morning despite it being a few degrees warmer than the day before when we did venture outside in the wind. So we lazed around in the morning and I obsessed over my Flickr group challenges; a recent one was the color orange and another was “tranquility.” I tried taking shots of Leo, showing off his orange coat, but when he nestled tranquilly on Susan’s arm in the warm sunny window, I decided to use the shot for the “tranquil” Flickr challenge. I did manage to take an “orange” shot when US Coast Guard helicopter flew low while I was outside on the balcony. There were even clouds in the background.
Tuesday was windy and cold with rain later in the day. When we started our morning walk, the temperature was 33°, but with the wind chill, it felt like 23°, positively balmy when compared to the temperatures at Susan’s home in Wisconsin, 0° with a wind chill of minus 7°. Susan and I walked on the beach until we were too frozen to continue; we lasted a brief 15 minutes but we were obviously moving briskly enough the entire time we were outside because we managed to tromp a mile at a 4MPH clip.
I took only a few shots this morning but I thought the clouds made for an interesting subject and I processed them in Silver Efex Pro 2.
The fog was so dense when we started our walk Monday morning that we could see only a few feet ahead. We walked a couple of miles to the Horace Caldwell Pier; on the way, we encountered grounded seagulls and a lone Great Blue Heron, sadly with only one foot. The fog rendered every shot dull and drab so I processed all of these shots in Silver Efex Pro 2 to add some interest to them.
The weather was great for getting out in the boat Sunday. Susan and Chris want me to catch a fish here in Port A but I think I bring only bad fishing karma. Whenever I’m in the boat, no one catches a fish. In the six years I have been coming to Port A, they have caught only one keeper, a red fish, when I was with them. So it’s a good thing I limit the length of my visits so they can start catching fish again when I’m gone!
I may not catch fish here but I do manage to catch a few decent bird shots. I was thrilled to get a fairly decent shot of a roseate spoonbill as it flew over our boat. Beautiful plumage, not so beautiful face. Same with the brown pelicans. They are truly odd creatures and the great blue heron won’t win any beauty contests either. I struggled with focus today and got lots of out of focus images. I guess I was lucky to get the few decent shots I got. Maybe I have bad photo karma, too.
The storm is over, the sun is out, and temperatures have returned to normal for Port A this time of year; it was in the mid 60’s for the annual Port Aransas Garden Club Home Tour Saturday. We toured million dollar homes in the area and were not allowed to take photos. However, I asked for, and was granted, permission to photograph the view from the balcony of one of them. It is a view of the private dune “walkover” leading to the beach on the gulf side of Mustang Island for the exclusive use of the homeowners in this enclave.
Before we left for the home tour, the long-tailed grackles were surrounding the front balcony of our house because Susan had thrown some bread crusts out for them. This is a group of females grackles waiting their turn on the roof of the house next door.
I came all the way to South Texas to find winter—and to learn a new word. The storm came in Thursday night: cold driving rains; 35 mph winds; the porch railing blown down and the chairs with it; huge waves crashing to shore; freezing temperatures. Friday was definitely an indoor day but Susan and I ventured out to the public library to find some videos for entertainment. The library posts a “word of the day” and the day’s word, algid——meaning cold or chilly——is new to me, but very appropriate. The high as I write at 5PM central time is 35°.
While we were out, we stopped in at Oceans of Seafood to buy shrimp for dinner—a simple meal of boiled shrimp, fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, served with cole slaw. With limited photo opportunities, I decided to take some shots of our future dinner: shrimp in the case at Oceans of Seafood. As we started to leave, one of the owners of the place asked if I wanted to photograph their “small” shrimp; he opened a cooler to reveal the 6 inch monsters piled within. Later at home, Susan boiled the smaller 3 inch shrimp we chose; when Leo investigated, he was removed from the counter to save our dinner, and seems to be thinking, “Hey! What did I do?”
My favorite shore birds are the adorable little sanderlings. They are small and skitter across the sand searching for their next meal. I had my 70-200mm lens on the D7100 today so I was able to capture better shots of them because I didn’t have to get so close. The first two shots are of a sanderling and the other shots are of a willet. I thought the varied types of reflections were interesting.
I arrived in Port Aransas, TX Wednesday afternoon to visit my dear friends Susan and Chris. I missed last year but this is my 6th annual visit to Port A since 2008. Susan and Chris are known here as “Winter Texans,” midwesterners who escape the harsh winters and spend the winter months fishing and enjoying the surf, seaside, and abundant wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico in South Texas. After picking me up at the airport in Corpus Christi, Susan and Chris treated me to an indulgent Sushi feast at Water Street Oyster Bar in Corpus; all of the delectable fish, including yellowtail, albacore, blue crab, hamachi, and shrimp, was caught in these Gulf waters. I have missed it here and am happy to be back for the next ten days.
I took a few shots as Susan and I strolled on the beach as the sun dipped behind us.