Canoeing and Birding the Aransas and Sailboat Channels
Our original plan was to launch at the Lighthouse Lakes Park, cross the Aransas Channel and then wind through the maze of channels until we reached the Lighthouse on the Lighthouse Channel. The plan quickly went south as soon as we entered the first cut and discovered the water was at low tide. Rule number one, check the tides and don't plan anything in the Lighthouse Lakes at low tide! We struggled against the outgoing flow much like struggling against a strong current in a river. Passing a beached kayak, whose owner was fishing, we quickly came to a stop in the shallow flats. Val explored further, looking for a channel but it wasn't to be. We were tired already from the great exercise and so we turned around and floated easily with the outgoing water. We watched the fisherman catch two reds on three casts, and I cast a bit but to no avail. Renita snapped images of a reddish egret, a little blue heron, and some white ibis, and reaching the Aransas Channel we decided to head under the bridge and explore the Sailboat Channel and Brown and Root Bays. Passing under the bridge Renita yelled to hear the echo and with the wind at our backs we easily floated west as two Great Blue Herons engaged in a fight display over the fishing territory. We tried to canoe up a cut but the water was too low and so we turned back and headed further west down the Sailboat Channel. Val spotted a roseate spoonbill standing asleep on one leg and we got quite close as Renita snapped image after image. A little further down was the old channel which Lannie had showed me as a possible canoe fishing spot and a guide pulled up with his clients and begin to fish. We felt a little bad about disturbing him, but we also felt a little sorry for his clients who were paying big bucks to fish next to the highway, in a spot we could so easily reach. The wind kept floating us steadily towards the East Shore,(I know it sounds confusing as we are paddling west), but thats the name on the map. Reaching the end of the channel we saw oyster bed after oyster bed and another roseate. Renita took the camera out of the waterproof bag and took more images as I gently steered the boat near the bird. The roseate seemed pretty unconcerned with us as it lowered its head again and again, occasionally lifting its ping pong paddle shaped bill and swallowing its prey. It was quite pink in color and we were surprised to see that the legs were also pink! Passing by, Renita put away the camera and we headed under another bridge to enter the Aransas Channel and head back to our put in and take out point. We fought the current and turning east we also fought the not so gentle wind. The mile and a half turned into some great exercise as we couldn't stop paddling or we would be blown backwards. Renita pointed out a pod of five dolphins and she tried to take some pictures but she soon put the camera away as we struggled east. Finally reaching the truck, I was a little angry with myself for going so far in one day. Two lessons learned, plan the trip better and check the tides. We loaded up our boats and talked of the days adventure. It had been a fun day, with warm temperatures, lots of wading birds, and blue skies. I hadn't been bothered by any fish and that was ok as it was another day of acting like kids! Clear skies.