The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Whooping Cranes and Granger Lake COE Parks-Texas

Yesterday was a really great day.  I headed up to San Marcos to meet my friend Birdie.  After a fairly quick breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we headed towards Austin and caught the Tollway Bypass on our way to Granger Lake.  As her nickname indicates, Birdie is very "into" birding and she had heard about whooping crane sitings at Granger Lake.  Coastal Texas is the winter headquarters for the endangered whooping cranes who were down to a population of about 20 a number of years ago but now number somewhere around 300 which is still pretty small for the whole country.  Here is Birdie setting up her telescope.  We were thrilled to see SIX whooping cranes.  One group of three looked like a family with a cinnamon looking youngster and two adults.  The other three were unmated males according to my expert.

Although we could see them very clearly with Birdie's big telescope and binoculars, you are just going to have to take my word that they are on the shore in this picture as my camera just couldn't get a clear shot that far away.  You may see some white specs on the sandbar on the right side of the photo.  There were six pelicans there.

During our visit around the lake, we also saw 3 Great Blue Herons, 1 Great Egret, and 4 Double Crested Cormorants in addition to American Wigeons, several Gull species, and Coots, Malards, and another type of ducks.  Birdwise, it was a pretty good day!

The entire shoreline of Granger Lake is either a wildlife area (4 different ones) or a Corp of Engineer park (3 different ones).  We saw the whooping cranes while we were right next to the south end of the dam so they were on the shore of the Sore Finger or San Gabriel Wildlife areas.  First we visited the COE Hdqtrs and checked out the historical marker in front of it.

The largest of the COE parks, Wilson H. Fox Park is currently closed for renovation work and is scheduled to reopen in April.  We got to check out Taylor Park and Willis Creek Park.

The sites are nice with paved surfaces, a great picnic table cover, water and 30 Amp electric.

The only downside was that the water views were obstructed by a lot of underbrush but there was a good hiking trail down below.
 We took a little path down from this site to get to the hiking path and found....

these great views with lots of birds on the water.

Due to the droughts in Texas, the lake levels are low and many boat launches are unusable but the one at Taylor is open.  There is also a dump station in the park, restrooms, and a playground.  Rates are $18-22 (1/2 for National Park pass Golden Age/Seniors).

We also drove around to visit Willis Creek Park.  We liked the layout of Taylor Park a little better but found a hidden, not advertised benefit at Willis Creek--4 of the sites have sewer connections!  ($22 for these or half off that for seniors with the park pass).

After 1 Oct, you can stay 14 days at the COE parks and then get extensions so staying all winter is definitely possible.

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better day.  Hope you enjoyed riding along!


  1. I would have had to write most of those bird species down to remember what to blog about. Cool that you got to see Whooping Cranes! Sounds like a very nice day out. Thanks for the report back on the parks too.

  2. Great day indeed, thanks for sharing.

    Whose red HHR, our tow car is a gold colored one.

  3. Great pics! I used to live in Austin for many years and know Granger Lake but saw it in a new way through your photos. Thank you.

  4. Hello again - on my blog you left the following comment...

    "You may be interested in this website. A fellow blogger and author was just interviewed on it."

    But the website didn't come through. I am definitely interested. Can you please leave another comment or email me? Thanks!


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