Mustang Island State Park, Texas

It rained all night our last night in Goose Island. Our 40 miles trek south to our next Gulf Coast destination included a ride on the Port Aransas ferry. After departing the ferry in Port Aransas we drove south about 12 miles to Mustang Island State Park. Despite rain, fog and overcast skies we enjoyed our stay there.

The first morning the fog was thick as pea soup when I took Blondie for a walk on the beach. After doing laundry there was still no sign of a clear sky so we decided to drive to Port Aransas. We had heard there were some good birding opportunities there and Henry needed to pick up some supplies from a hardware store so he could repair our steps (there’s always something to fix on an RV).

First stop was Charlie’s pasture, a nature preserve. I spied a lone white pelican and a couple of roseate spoonbills across the marsh. The next stop was Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center where we hit the jackpot. Spoonbills perched in trees, many varieties of ducks, cormorants, American Coot, tri-colored heron, a green heron and many I couldn’t identify. We even saw some turtles.

The next day was still overcast and foggy but we made the drive to Padre Island National Seashore anyway. The park is 60 miles long and extends all the way to the southern tip of Padre Island. The paved road ends shortly past the Visitor’s Center. From there on vehicles must drive on hard packed sand on the beach. Camping is allowed on the beach and we saw some interesting campers as we drove along for a few miles. A picnic table at the windsurfing beach (waterfront campsites with no hookups are available here) was a perfect place for lunch.

We camped in site 17 at Mustang Island. The campground, located just behind the dunes, is a large, rectangular paved parking lot with back in sites on two sides. There is a grassy area between most sites. Each site has water and electric, a shelter with picnic table, and a grill.  There was standing water in some of the sites after a big storm the night before. The water drained overnight and everything was fine the next day. The beach access is a short walk or drive from the campground. There is a large area on the beach with picnic shelters where no driving is allowed. Driving and parking is allowed on the beach on both sides of the beach picnic area.



A great first stop in Texas – Galveston Island State Park

As we continued west through Louisiana on I-10 we passed by many crawfish farms. After a stop at the Texas welcome center we were loaded up with maps and brochures. We also got directions to Galveston which included the instructions “follow the road to the ferry”. Ferry? We didn’t know we would be taking a ferry! What a great surprise!

As we approached the ferry dock Henry noticed a lighthouse through the fog on my side of the road.  I was able to get a couple of pictures before we got in line for the ferry. The three mile crossing is on a free ferry operated by the Texas Highway Department.

After departing the ferry in Galveston we had about a 12 mile drive to the state park. As soon as we finished setting up camp we took a walk on the beach. The beach was practically empty. The sound of waves crashing on the beach was like music to my ears.

The next day we took a drive to the wildlife viewing area in the park with hopes of spotting some Roseate Spoonbills. The hiking trails were muddy and flooded in places so we passed on doing any hiking.  We enjoyed the views from an overlook and walked down a relatively dry trail to the kayak launching area. From the parking lot we stopped to watch some Egrets in a pond when I saw a splash of pink. A flock of Roseate Spoonbills entertained us before suddenly taking off.

Our campsite was in the beach campground at Galveston Island State Park. Our site was a paved back-in with a covered shelter, picnic table, fire ring, and water and electric hookups. The beach was just a short walk from the campsite. We enjoyed the park and wish we could have stayed longer.

An Unexpected Visitor in the Neighborhood

Coastal Georgia is home to many wetlands birds. Herons, Egrets, Wood Storks and Ibis are regularly seen in and around the salt marsh, creeks and rivers here.

One July afternoon this summer I was surprised to see a large pink bird flying over the marsh. It was too far away and flew by too fast for me to to tell for sure but I thought it must be a Roseate Spoonbill. Spoonbills nest along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana and in south Florida but they are considered uncommon this far north.

A neighbor confirmed that yes, I did see a Spoonbill. In fact, she saw a pair feeding in the creek at low tide. I continued to see the brilliant pink of the pair as they flew by our house almost every afternoon for about 3 weeks. One day I finally saw where one landed so I grabbed my camera and ran out to capture a few pictures.

Other Roseate Spoonbills have been spotted in other coastal Georgia locations in recent years. I know from now on I will always be on the lookout for pink birds among the flocks of Herons and Egrets I see in the salt marsh.