Early Thursday morning, our last full day in Port A, Susan and I drove to Fulton Harbor and boarded the Skimmer with Capt. Tommy Moore for a water-based Birding Tour of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge which is situated primarily on the Blackjack peninsula, behind the protective influence of Matagorda Island, part of a long chain of barrier islands extending down the Texas coastline. Between land and water, this salt marsh habitat is made up of vegetation that thrives in the saline environment. The brackish waters are teeming with blue crab and shellfish, both primary food sources for Whooping Cranes. We saw more than twenty Whoopers on our tour but they were very far away and despite my 800mm plus range ( 300mm+Nikon D500 1.5X crop factor + 1.4X TC + 1.3 high speed crop) they were too small in the frame for decent images.
Seeing so many whoopers was fun and we saw more different species of birds on this trip than any other Skimmer trip I’ve taken in past years—37 different species. One of the most interesting was one I hadn’t seen here in a few years and Susan had commented earlier that she hadn’t seen in years either. Perched on an oyster bed, we saw a small flock of Long-billed Curlews an interesting bird with a long curved bill.