Before I talk about the bird tour I should probably mention that I did find time to go into Corpus Christi and I liked it a lot. It’s very close to Padre Island and has almost every store you could possibly need. If you have an America the Beautiful pass you can enter and exit Padre without paying the entrance fee. If not, you need to pay the $10 fee and then either stay onsite, or you can leave and then return after 5pm when the guard shack is closed and reenter for free.
I needed to run a few errands and ended up getting a hair cut, going to Best Buy (lost my lens cap), and going to a Goodwill Store and a Salvation Army store. My jeans have been taking a beating and I was running low, so between the two stores I found 2 pairs of jeans and 4 pairs of jean shorts for the low-low price of $32 total. Can’t beat it, and the Goodwill is pretty nice there. I also went to Walmart and bought a couple of things, and the one closest to Padre Island is really nice. It had almost everything you could want. There are even a couple of movie theaters in town and we talked about trying to see a movie, but ultimately just stayed on the island instead. You really don’t need to leave if you don’t want, just make sure you stock up before you get there.
Anyway, back to the bird tour! While we were at the visitors center I saw a sign for a free 2-1/2 to 3 hr van bird tour. Since we see these tours all the time, but are usually on day trips to a place and don’t want to spend the time I was excited to sign up. The tour was run by a retired couple who freely said they were bird enthusiasts not bird experts, and we were given books to help identify the birds we saw. Initially, I was pretty disappointed, because although we were allowed to go into areas we otherwise couldn’t access, we weren’t allowed out of the van and my 100mm lens could barely see, let alone take pictures of the birds.
Because life is too short and I hate feeling like I am being held hostage I asked if we were going to be allowed out at any point, thinking if the answer was no I would have them drop me off at the visitors center and go on my way. The answer though was we would be able to get out three times, so I stuck it out and ultimately I was glad I did. It was interesting hearing about the island and the couple was very nice, but because there was no PA system in the van we had to leave the AC off to hear them. The air was on/off throughout the ride which helped keep the temps tolerable, but really a little speaker system would have done wonders. Still I was really excited when at our first stop that we could get out, they pointed out a Black Wing Whistling Duck. This was a first for me and bit unusual because it wasn’t on the paper they gave us with common birds and I was just able to get a couple decent shots of them.
One of the great things about the tour was the fact that they really knew their birds and I really learned a lot about identifying them. I was not a birder before we went on the road and really only started because I admired the pictures that Howard from RV-Dreams took so much, but it has been quite a bit of fun in our travels. Even though I use the Merlin Bird app to identify, which is a great app, it’s still tough especially when the birds are not breeding. Still, I try though, and get excited when I can see a bird and the fellow bird enthusiast made it fun. Lee, not so much, but he was a trooper, but it really wasn’t his thing.
The reason I don’t have a longer lens buy the way, is part of the fun for me has been being able to at least glimpse the animal with the naked eye. After seeing grizzlies far away and missing out on several birds I might have to change my stance on that. Anyway, they did drive on the beach in a couple of places, but that was disappointing, because we didn’t get to get out there either. I actually got better shots the day before, but I did get a few from the van.
The best part of the whole tour was when we stopped at the boat ramp that was actually within walking distance of our campsite. I knew the boat ramp was down there, but what I didn’t know was that a group of white pelicans were hanging out nearby. We had seen lots of grey ones the day before, and I thought they were all on the ocean side, but a whole group of them were hanging out to get some fish from the fishermen. Deb you mentioned you liked pelicans, well I dedicate this section to you 🙂
The very best part was, as we were watching one pelican grabbed a huge fish out of the water and swallowed it. The tour guides said they had never seen that before, and Lee and I both got pics of it. I’ll try to put them in the order as we saw it happen. Really, really cool.
That was really an amazing thing to see and we got a few other shots as well. This was by far the best place we went, so make sure if you ever stay here, that you walk or drive down to the boat launch area. It was a fun tour and I learned quite a bit, although I wish we could have gotten out more. That night when we got back someone with a tent was parked in the spot right next to us. We could have avoided this by buying two spots and spending $10 a night, but there were so many openings we really didn’t think it was necessary. Once they arrived and set up we decided to go ahead and head out the next morning, a day earlier than we had planned. We were on our way to Silsbee to meet an RV tech who was going to replace the floor in our closet/laundry slideout. More about that next time, for now I’ll just say we had a wonderful time at Padre and would absolutely go back. We’d love to try camping on the beach itself, or at least at Malaquite.
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