The park’s brochure makes a statement about this place that we can appreciate but did not experience. They wrote, “For centuries humans have viewed South Dakota’s celebrated Badlands with a mix of dread and fascination.” For us, the place was simply fascinating! We did not sense the dread, but perhaps it is because we came in spring when the temperatures were mild and the grasses lush and green. In this place one can marvel at the eroded peaks and pinnacles, gullies, buttes and wide prairies. The skies were interesting and the light played with colors that seemed to change by the hour. There is a sense of vastness. Best of all, this is a great place to photograph!
Rockport got its name from the rock ledge that runs along the shore of bay. Its main economic drivers are tourism, shipping, and fishing. We have been here for three months and spent many hours at various marinas and scouted out interesting piers. Here the marinas are filled primarily with what we call ‘working’ boats. Very few boats are fancy. Boats go out to dredge for oysters and then when the shrimping season opens they trade their dredging buckets for shrimping nets. Both activities are highly regulated and areas where either oysters or shrimp can be harvested are limited and the quantities are also restricted. Both industries have suffered major setbacks in the past few decades from the effects of flooding (too much fresh water dumped in the bay), pollution such as oil spills and then hurricanes! On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall over Rockport. The devastation was horrific! While some areas in Rockport are fully recovered there are many areas where one sees destruction that can only be attributed to a major hurricane.
Rockport is located just across a narrow bay from Padre Island on the Gulf Coast in southern Texas. This whole area is appreciated by birders for its huge numbers of birds supported year round and being a stopping point for thousand of migrating birds in spring and fall. Steve (S. Bates) has been in Rockport, TX since last July. Tom and I arrived here in January. None of us are ‘birders’ as we know little about them and have not pursued bird photography with any seriousness. Our bird photography is largely the photography of ‘opportunity’. If we are fortunate to have an opportunity to photograph one of these gorgeous creatures within the limits of our lens we will do so. When it works we get all excited! Below is a collection of photographs that have opportunistically crossed our paths while staying in Rockport. Our apologies to our wonderful birding friends if we have mis-identified one of these birds. Let me know and I will set it right.
You might imagine the conversation in trying to name these birds. We have reference cards. “Well, that one has yellow feet so that makes it a . . . Now that bill curves down so that suggests it is . . . That red face makes it a . . . Hmmmmm . . . . . not sure about that hawk. . . . “