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Port Aransas, TX Whooping Crane Festival

  • 23 Feb 2018
  • 25 Feb 2018
  • Port Aransas, TX


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Something to whoop about!

Image result for whooping cranes

We are planning a weekend fly-in to Port Aransas, Texas, for the Whooping Crane Festival, February 23-25, 2018!  Port Aransas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and this year is expected to be a banner year for the whoopers, so let's do our part to help!

Things to note:

We will fly into Mustang Beach Airport (KRAS); there is a $5. per night tie-down fee.  (Bring your own tie-downs and ropes.)

There are no rental cars available in Port A.  We will use the local taxi service and individual vehicles of those that chose to drive. The taxi service has assured me that they have 10 cars and 2 vans, so transportation should not be an issue. 

The Whooping Crane Festival officially begins on Thursday, February 22.  If you would like to come in on Thursday, Susan has rooms held for Thursday night at the Plantation Suites for $91.16 under her membership; let her know if you would like to reserve a room for Thursday night. You may also make reservations directly with the hotel.

If you plan to come in on Friday,  Susan has rooms held under her membership at a rate of $93.49 per night for Friday and Saturday for a 2-queen suite.  Let her know if you would like to reserve your hotel room at the Plantation Suites. The online/direct rate per room for Friday and Saturday is $129. If you prefer, you can make your own reservations directly with the hotel; just note that the hotel will sell out for the festival so don't delay in making reservations.  There is a cancellation window up to Monday, February 19.

There are two Festival guest speakers that will probably be of interest to our group.

On Saturday at 9:00 a.m., Joe Duff, Co-Founder and CEO, Operation Migration, will be the featured speaker.  Susan and I saw an exhibit about him and his operation in the Udvar-Hazy Museum at Dulles.  Before Joe Duff became involved in conservation, he was a commercial photographer. He uses that talent to illustrate his 20+ years of flying with birds and plots the history of the Whooping Cranes’ slow recovery from the brink of extinction. Lead pilot and co-founder of Operation Migration, Joe accumulated more hours in flight alongside more species of birds than any other person.

Natalie Bourke is scheduled to speak on Saturday but the Chamber is trying to switch her to Friday just so that we could attend this event on Friday at 2:00 p.m.  Natalie Bourke is the Public Outreach Education Officer for Parks Canada’s Southwest Northwest Territories Field Unit which includes the Whooping Crane nesting area in Wood Buffalo National Park. As a brand new Parks Canada employee in 1989, Natalie had the privilege of accompanying renowned Canadian Wildlife Service scientist Ernie Kuyt on a Whooping Crane survey which in those days consisted of dizzying swoops in a small plane, using binoculars to try and identify leg band colors. Apparently there were few staff who could “stomach” this survey technique, but Natalie was one of them and the experience contributed to her interest in learning how to fly and later piloting her own small plane.  

Guest Speaker: Natalie Bourke Whooping Crane Festival

If the Chamber cannot switch the time of her presentation to Friday, she will speak on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., which conflicts with the Saturday afternoon whooping crane boat tour.  There are other whooper tours on Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. and Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m.  We should have a final schedule from the Chamber by Tuesday, January 16.  In the meantime, feel free to go ahead and sign up for any additional activities or tours that you want.

Although the highlight of the weekend is the boat trip to see the whoopers (12:30 pm-5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon), there are many other activities associated with the festival.  Feel free to plan your own itinerary.  Dinner reservations for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night at Virginia's on the Bay have been made so that our group can be accomodated.

If you plan to attend, it is critical that you do these three things immediately:

1) Book your room.  Let Susan ( know if you want to reserve rooms through her account.  If not, go online and book your room directly with Plantation Suites.  Remember that there is a cancellation window up to Monday, February 19.

2) Go online and register for the Whooping Crane Festival ($20. pp);  This is required for anyone entering the festival grounds (and it is also helping them recover from Hurricane Harvey). 

3) Register for the Saturday 12:30 p.m. Whooping Crane Field Trip ($50.pp): Note: there are only 57 tickets left for this trip and they will sell out fast.

This is not a typical weekend fly-in where we have everything scheduled.  There is some flexibility built in each day so that you can pick and choose activities that interest you.  Just be aware that we will be dependent upon taxis and the local trolley (or golf cart rentals!) for transportation.  For additional information about whooping cranes and Port Aransas, see the links below.  

If you have any questions, let us know.  If you plan to attend, we can send you a spreadsheet of the full weekend's itinerary.  Hope to see you in February!

Scott and Susan

Texas Coastal Communities Face Challenges Restoring Tourism Economy

Whooping Crane Festival |

Port-Harvey Report

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