Sunday, April 13, 2008

Birding Center

Port Aransas is on the northern end of Mustang Island, one of a string of barrier islands separating the Texas coast from the Gulf of Mexico. The Birding Center is on the back (inland) side of the island. It's surrounded by a fresh water lagoon that is cut off from the bay beyond and receives a steady supply of clean fresh water from the city's waster water treatment plant.

"Boots" is the Center's resident alligator. He's lived in the lagoon since before the Birding Center was built. On the day we visited, Boots chose to stay hunkered down in the mud under the pier, though one eye is open and I suspect he's well aware of what's happening around him. I wasn't tempted to dangle my toes in the water to test this suspicion.

Boots has been seen capturing an occasional slow seagull, but his main "job" is controlling the nutria population in the lagoon. From time to time, smaller gators have been released into the lagoon, but they soon disappear. Many suspect -- but no one has actually proven -- that the lagoon is only large enough for one fat and happy gator.

The Center consists of a pier that extends into the lagoon. It has a raise observation deck and two powerful scopes, one on the raised deck and one that is wheelchair accessible on the lower level.

The Birding Center in Port Aransas is named after Leonabelle Turnbull. Before her retirement to Corpus Christi, Belle was considered the island's resident birding expert. For many years she conducted interpretive tours at the Birding Center -- and for a lot more years than that, Belle has been Jo's mother.



Anonymous said...

Hello Marvin,

I have been thinking, I wonder if I could get my breath in Florida? The reason is that several people I know have gone there to places like your blog post shows, and they take photos of birds and beasts. They comes back with oodles of pictures. My mom lived in El Campo, Texas and south of her, somewhere, was an area where geese returned each year. I never saw so many.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on but these are a nice set of photographs.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio.

Tom said...

Hi Marvin... I have a mate called 'Boots'.. he'd love this... he dose much the same job as this Boots but in a rowdy bar/pub.. ha!
This sounds a neat place to visit, and I'm sure if this was around these parts me and Big Peter would be here a lot.


Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Marvin, Thank you for visiting my blog. You have a wonderful blog here! I have to go out today, but I've marked your page and I'll be back to really explore it. Thanks again!

Texas Travelers said...

Thanks for the nice post. I really enjoyed it. We try to get down there a couple of times a year and this is one of the place we like to visit. Besides the Gator, we always see a lot of neat birds.

Thanks for sharing.

Troy in Ft. Worth

Marvin said...

Thanks to everyone for their kind comments.

Abraham: El Campo is a little ways up the coast on U. S. 59 from Aransas Pass where Jo and I spent our time in Texas. Relatively nearby in Austwell, TX, is the
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
. Thousands of migratory birds (including Whooping Cranes) overwinter on the refuge.

Lana Gramlich said...

Boots is REALLY cool! Sorry for my recent absence (again.) Mundania intrudes!

smilnsigh said...

A wonderful tribute to a lady who must be quite the mother-in-law. :-)


Andree said...

Hi Marvin! I had to look up what a nutria is and they are not pretty. (Strange how I compartmentalize animals like that.) I really like the photo of the lagoon and pier: the curved line is so nice. Got to read more now . . .

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Ha Marvin, I just bet you weren't danging any toes in this lagoon. I don't blame you. I have certainly been to this place. I saw my first Armadillo on one of the trails in Port ARansas. I know they are a nuisance to you but I thought it was the most exciting thing to see. I still get excited when I see one.

Texas Travelers said...

I could not sleep, so I was going back through some of your older post today and ran across something that I had missed previously. I didn't know that Belle was Jo's mother. That's great.

If we are anywhere near Corpus, we visit the birding center. It's a favorite place along with Mustang Island.

Your neighbors,
Troy and Martha