Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Spectacular Aransas!

 A splendid Aransas sunset!


During a Christmas trip to Texas way back in 2004, we had an opportunity to get down to Aransas Wildlife Refuge along the Texas coasts.  It is rare that I get to Texas anymore and it is ever rarer that I get there when the Whooping Cranes are in state!  So we stole a few days away from the family reunion at my sister’s house in Houston and drove the Great Texas Birding Trail from Galveston down to Aransas to see the cranes.

We had great success seeing the cranes breeding and brooding along the coasts of Texas.  With only a few hundred of these glorious birds left on earth, I feel very fortunate to have seen them in their native habitat raising their young. 

The fascinating thing about Aransas is that it is home to a truly impressive assemblage of bird, mammal and reptile species!  While there we saw Texas White-tailed Deer, Nine-banded Armadillos by the buttload, Eastern Fox Squirrels and well over 100 species of birds, many of which were lifers.  We trekked the ancient oak woodlands and did driving safaris around the loop road that cris-crossed savannah grasslands and stands of mixed oak woodlands.  All in all we had a wonderful week exploring the wilderness of Aransas and the Birding Route.


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Check out the images below for a sense of what Aransas has to offer!




Aransas has a mosaic of habitats.  The palm savannah surrounds stands of oaks.



Some of heritage oaks in Aransas are hundreds of years old.



American Alligators are common in many of the wetlands in and around Aransas.  This young one was basking in the sun near the trail.



Nine-banded Armadillos are seen regularly in the late afternoon foraging in the grasses near the forest edges.




Brown Pelicans are a common sight in the bays and harbors in and around the Aransas area.



Aransas is a world class birding destination.  Spectacular White Ibises were regularly seen in the Aransans Reserve.



Well camouflaged in its grass habitat, this Tricolored Heron nearly missed being spotted.  Thankfully I always travel with Som - the one with the amazing eagle eyes.



Great Blue Herons are also a common sight in the wetlands of Aransas.



The main attraction of Aransas is the flock of very endangered Whooping Cranes.  One of the few places left on earth to see these magnificant birds, Aransas offers some excellent viewing opportunities of breeding pairs.




This Whooper was enjoying its favorite prey - blue crabs.



Double Crested & Neotropical Cormorants both breed in the Aransas reserve.



Laughing Gulls!


White Ibis seen in the grasslands of Aransas.




Great White Egret on the docks of Aransas.

Please take a look at our North America Image Galleries!