Monday, February 22, 2010

Looking for Wilsons Cut and Paradise Pond on Mustang Island

See the plans had been to go kayaking with Val and Rosie but the fog moved in and hadn't lifted so we decided to spend the morning looking for a new place to paddle. A place that we had wanted to try was on Mustang Island, but it involved finding the put in spot, so we decided to spend the day looking for it and doing some birding.
On the way to the ferry the fog increased and it started to rain pretty hard. Luckily it stopped as we loaded onto the ferry and crossing and disembarking we turned right down Port Street in Port Aransas. The paved road took us past warning signs about dangerous wakes caused by large ships and we were a little uncomfortable as we passed Charley's Pasture.
Now the town of Port Aransas had just finished the construction of a new park and Port Street ended at the parking lot! A large covered shelter allowed us to glass out the ponds and staying dry we saw gadwalls, roseattes,green winged teals, and northern shovelers feeding unconcerned in the mist.
Crushed red granite trails led everywhere, and surprisingly they kept us out of the mud so we walked down one for a bit but the rain started again and we retreated to the truck promising to return on a better day.
We turned right again and actually missed the small sign for a place called Paradise Pond so we made a u-turn and drove back. The sign was small and nondescript but Renita and Val both spotted it. I turned into a restaurant parking lot and behind the building a small parking lot had been constructed for birders at the pond.
Now Lannie and Judy had told us about the multitude of songbirds that visit the place each spring, but Judy had also told us that the pond had flooded and that the birds hadn't yet arrived,(and maybe wouldn't as the place usually has feeders).
A wooden boardwalk took us to the small pond and the first thing we saw was a flock of black crowned night herons roosting in the drizzle! Red eared turtles were perched on every log and the small lgbs,(little grey birds), flitted in the dense undergrowth.
The black crowned herons seemed to be all males and sported a pair of long white head feathers that gave them a regal look. Joining them were an immature black crowned heron and a great blue heron, all completely unconcerned with our presence.Walking to the other viewing spot we pointed out more red eared turtles and several yellow rumped warblers.
It was such a small place but such a neat place that we added it to our places to return and so we headed back to the truck and on to our original destination, a launch site called Wilson's Cut.
When we arrived at the cut we saw that a lot of people had drove through the road ditch to launch their boats and it didn't make sense as a dry but typical bumpy Texas road took us to the same spot.
I locked in a gps waypoint and we studied the map of the Mustang Island Paddling trails. A family fished nearby and their kids were catching fish and falling in the greasy mud, as you would expect happy kids to do!
Eating our lunch we discussed the days finds and made plans for future birding and paddleing adventures. The ferry wasn't busy and as we loaded the sun tried to break out of the clouds, promising a great afternoon. It was too late to go back and load the boats so we returned home to the ever grateful watchdog, Molly. It had been a good day finding lots of new places! Clear skies

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