The Big Tree
Known as The Big Tree, this live oak on Goose Island is more than 1,000 years old!
To put this in perspective, it was probably a sapling when William The Conquerer crossed the channel from Normandy to conquer England in 1066. It was already over 400 years old when Christopher Columbus first set sail for the New World. And it was more than 700 years old when the colonies were rebelling against King George and Parliament.
A thousand years is a long time, and this tree has weathered it through all the vagaries of nature, including countless hurricanes.
The Texas coast is a wonderful ecosystem. Here at Goose Island we are seeing many, many white and brown pelicans, a variety of egrets, and any number of waterfowl. Feeding near to shore were some Northern Pintails which were fun to watch as they would go tail-up to do a bit of feeding.
In the picture you see here is a juvenile black-crowned night heron. His wing looks funny because it is tangled in some monofilament fishing line. According to a park ranger, they encounter a bird with this problem at least once a week. If they can get to the bird, they do a rescue; but sometimes the frightened and confused bird will not allow the a ranger near.
Unfortunately, it is not only monofilament that is a concern, but also fish hooks. Often fishermen will place a piece of bait that is already on a hook where a bird can swoop in and filch it. Then the bird swallows the bait, hook and all. That becomes sure death for the bird.
Just to let you know, a ranger was on his way to try and rescue this bird. But I don't know the outcome.
Rockport is a sleepy little fishing town of less than 9,000 on the Aransas Bay. Shrimping, tourism, and "Winter Texans" make up much of its economy. There is also charter fishing and duck hunting.
There are tour boats out of Rockport that specialize in taking people to see the endangered (only 300) whooping cranes which fly down from Canada each year to winter in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
We took a little vacation in Rockport about 25 years ago, staying in a cheap little motel overlooking the water. Each morning we would go out and watch the dolphins gambol in the bay. The motel is now a stalled rehab that will never happen, and its pier is little more than a memory.
This crab has not seen near as much history as The Big Tree. A symbol of Rockport, the original was atop a restaurant that closed in the late 1960s. The city bought it and used it in parades and promotional photos. Repainted by a Winter Texan, it changed its sex to female when its claws were given a red tinge. It eventually deteriorated and was scrapped. About 15 years ago a new Big Crab was made by a local artist. Today it sits in all its glory in a park along the Rockport waterfront.