If you’re a birder who wants to get into kayaking or a kayaker who wants to get into birding, the Rockport, Texas, area is the place to go and April is the time. The numbers of migratory birds that visit the area peak during this month, and the weather is usually perfect.
There’s probably no better place in the country for adding notches to your life list-more birds travel through Texas (540 reported species) than any other state in the union (California comes in a distant second, with 80 fewer). The nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1937 for the specific purpose of protecting the vanishing wildlife of coastal Texas. It’s a safe haven for 390 species, the highest count in the entire NWR system. As many as 100,000 tourists visit yearly, intent on getting a quick glimpse of a bird they have never seen before.
But none of them will get as good a view as we did. Early one morning, we put in on the north shore of Little Bay and got so close to a brown gull that we could feel the strain in its legs as it launched its awkward weight upward, looking as if someone had just thrown a dark sack into the air. Adam, one of our guides, told us, “Kayaking removes the barrier between you and nature. When you’re immersed in the middle of nature, you can’t deny the worth of the ecosystem.”
Rockport is a two-hour drive from San Antonio and a four-hour drive from Austin. Corpus Christi International Airport is a mere 40 miles away and is serviced by most major airlines.
For instructional kayak trips and birding tours, contact Rhino Ridge Outfitters at (254) 897-3866; www.rhinoridge.com.
For info on the area, try the Rockport-Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce at (800) 242-0071; www.rockport-fulton.org.