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Whooping Crane tours Port Aransas or Rockport?

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Dec 26th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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Whooping Crane tours Port Aransas or Rockport?

In a few days we will be up around Port Aransas and Rockport. I'd like to take one of the Whooping Crane boat tours. It looks like the ones out of Rockport get out to the refuge in less time. Has anyone taken any of the tours and do they have a tour operator they preferred? Thanks!
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Dec 27th, 2008, 08:03 AM
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Topping, since this sounds interesting to me.

Keith
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Dec 27th, 2008, 09:01 AM
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Toucan, I did a tour years ago. I dated an ornithologist in college. It was definitely a neat experience and worth doing, but I'm sorry I can't remember the details. I hope you enjoy it.
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Dec 27th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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I think we will probably be there on Monday, so I guess I'll start by checking who has the tours on Monday!

In case no one happens to reply about ones they took, I'll be sure to post back after the trip and let you know how it went Keith.
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Dec 28th, 2008, 06:12 AM
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Several years ago one of my brothers took the tour out of Port A--great experience, he is an avid birder. Before taking the tour I believe he contacted the head of the San Antonio chapter of the Audubon Society for the recommendation--just a thought.

http://www.saaudubon.org/
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Dec 28th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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The Houston Chronicle just ran a big story about birding, so I was going to post the name of their recommended tour, but it turned out to be about sand cranes and not whooping cranes - sorry.
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Dec 28th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Thanks Volcanogirl...the sandhill cranes trip to nebraska is one we keep meaning to take as well, and will one day.

I decided to take the one out of Rockport, and am going tomorrow morning at 7:30: http://www.whoopingcranetours.com/8.html

It got a great review on this person's blog:

http://tinyurl.com/9k6mv8

And, we got a room right across the street at the Inn at Fulton Harbor, which is a really lovely property. I'll get up in the morning and walk across the street. I wish the weather was a little nicer, I could stay at this property for a few days!

http://www.innatfultonharbor.com/ifh/

Just in case anyone else is interested
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Dec 29th, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Thanks, Toucan2. I've seen the cranes in Nebraska sevral times.

Keith
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Dec 29th, 2008, 06:47 PM
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Hi Keith,

I'll have to pick your brains on that trip in the future when we manage to take that trip to Nebraska.

I'll write more later, but will just say now that the trip was fantastic. We got great looks at them, saw several pairs, pairs with babies, cranes with just-caught blue crabs, cranes flying, just about everything you could imagine.

To top it off, that afternoon my husband and I drove over to the Aransas NWR and late in the day decided to do the autotour loop and came across a flock of about 35 Sandhill Cranes! So Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes in one day I was a happy girl.
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Dec 30th, 2008, 05:50 AM
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Sounds wonderful! How close were you able to get to the Whoopers?

Keith
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Jan 1st, 2009, 04:57 AM
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Keith, The closest look was probably 400 feet. Close enough that I could take a picture with my point and shoot digital and you could tell what they were, but not a good picture. Better pic with the scope of course. The photographers on the boat with the big lenses (400 mm?) were very excited at how close we were.

Unfortunately my trip has now been interrupted as my mom has passed away, so it will be a week or so before I get back with details.
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Jan 1st, 2009, 11:45 AM
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Toucan, I'm so sorry about your mom.
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Jan 2nd, 2009, 05:27 AM
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Condolences, Toucan.

Best wishes.

Keith
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Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:09 AM
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If anyone needs more info., the January 2 issue of the Houston Chronicle has a story on the whooping cranes. They recommend the Skimmer captained by Tommy Moore out of Rockport. 270 cranes have been spotted so far.

Toucan, hope you're doing okay.
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Jan 6th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Thank you Keith and volcanogirl. We buried my mom yesterday, and were able to have both a joyful family gathering on Saturday in a park overlooking Puget Sound, and a graveside service yesterday. My mom had come a long way from being a very poor little girl in China, Texas.

In any case, back to the whooping crane tours. Volcanogirl, the tour I took was the one by Tommy Moore. (link above) There were two tours daily, one at 7:30 am and one at 1 pm. 7:30 you get free coffee, and can buy bottles of water for $1, 1 pm tours they put out the boxed wine http://www.whoopingcranetours.com/

You definitely should make reservations. I called on Sunday night and both of the next two 1 pm tours were already full, and when I did arrive for the 7:30 am tour on Monday morning, it was pretty full.

I can only speak to the tour I took, of course, but I listened to several people who had taken other tours, and they said they liked this one because it was smaller, and because Capt. Tommy takes the time to really let you look at the cranes. The boat has a shallow draft, and several times he would even pull up right to the shore and sit and let you watch all you want, as well as let photographers click away.

He was very knowledgable, not only about the cranes but the other birds and critters that might be seen. The sound system was decent, so you could actually hear him anywhere you were on the boat.

Layers of clothing were key. In the morning, on the water, in winter, it was breezy and cold. I had on a warm up jacket, a quilted jacket, and really should have taken my windbreaker and layered that too. I was missing gloves, and would have been pretty well off if I had just had those and possibly a hat. They do have blankets on each of the bench seats that you should lay across the seat and sit upon.

He has a scope on the boat that anyone can use, as well as a case of binoculars you can try out, but of course you should come with your own as well.

The cost of the tour I took was $45, well worth it!

Here is a post on texbirds from one of the Christmas Bird Counters on the boat:

http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail...s_Birds/409985

We ate dinner at the Moondog the night before, good tavern food. There is a restaurant right there as you come off the boat called Charlotte Plummers http://www.charlotteplummers.com/cp/ that is supposed to bevery good.

We stayed at the Inn at Fulton Harbor, which was very nice. In addition, when I told them I was going on the 7:30 tour they immediately said they would give me late checkout so I could come off the tour and freshen up before checking out. And, when the tour went to about 12:45, they still had no problem. http://www.innatfultonharbor.com/ifh/

I hope this is helpful!

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Mar 16th, 2009, 05:01 AM
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The problem with Captain Tommy's "Skimmer" is that it doesn't run if they don't have at least 10 reservations. This is mentioned on their web site but not when you call to reserve.

My wife and I had reservations for last Saturday morning. We drove the 200 miles from Houston on Friday and stayed at the Inn at Fulton Harbor. (A little pricey at about $140 but very nice.)

We waited for the Skimmer from 7:10 Saturday morning but the crew never showed. They canceled the trip Friday afternoon and said that they called us. Even if we'd got their call, we'd have been in Fulton by then.

So in the end, we didn't get to do the tour and were out two gallons of gas, $140 for the hotel and eight hours of driving!

If you want to take a boat trip in the area, the Wharf Cat looks like a safer bet. They operate a regular schedule and Birdwoman in the Houston Chronicle had a great trip with them last year.

www.jeffincypress.blogspot.com
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Mar 16th, 2009, 10:19 AM
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Oh no! That's awful! How long did you have to wait until you found out? Did you have to call them?
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