Don't be surprised to find an alligator staring back at you from the
sloughs at Aransas NWR. This refuge on the Texas coast is a haven
reptiles and amphibians and is the winter home for a flock of
endangered whooping cranes. Reaching a standing height of almost five
feet, these stately cranes are the tallest birds in North America.
Mammals at Aransas include white- tailed deer,
bobcats, javelinas, nine-banded armadillos, feral hogs and cougars, and
the refuge's bird list is the second largest in the US national
wildlife refuge system with 394 recorded species.
months, you can use high powered spotting scopes on the refuge's
observation tower to find and watch whooping cranes. You can also
charter a boat or join a tour for even closer views of the cranes and
other birds. In 2007, over 200 cranes made the journey to Aransas
from their summer home in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The USFWS site lists
following boats as
available for reservation.
• Pisces Charters
• The Skimmer
• Wharf Cat
WHERE TO SEE WILDLIFE
It's hard not
to see wildlife on the refuge's auto tour. For
shorebirds, waterfowl and wading birds, check out the shallows of San
Antonio Bay and Jones Lake. Alligators
can also be spyed from the viewing platform at Jones Lake, and with
luck, you can see Purple Gallinules and Common Moorhens as well.
you're longing to see colorful neotropical warblers and other migrating
songbirds, take a hike on the birding trail adjacent to the Heron Flats
parking lot from mid April to mid May. Exhausted avian travelers
often take a needed rest in the oak woodlands.
TIMES TO VISIT:
through March for whooping cranes. Mid April to mid May for
neotropical migrants (arrival dates vary, so it's best to check with
refuge staff). Open year round from sunrise to sunset.
Rockport, travel Highway 35 north for about 20 miles to Farm Road
774. Turn right on 774 and drive about 9 more miles to FM
2040. Take a right and drive 7 miles to the refuge.
Refuge Contact Info:
P O Box 100
Austwell, Texas 77950
Foraging Reddish Egret
List for Aransas NWR
List for Aransas NWR
and Amphibian List for Aransas