One thing about spending springtime along the Texas coast is the opportunity to enjoy the peak of the spring bird migration. The migration event arrives early on the Upper Texas Coast with migrants moving through from early March to early May. The peak of migration is in mid-April when it is in full swing. Since we are entering the last part of migration I thought I would share some of what I have seen with you.
Here in Rockport Texas I have discovered several decent places to find migratory birds. Early in March I focused on two areas. Rockport Beach has been a great place to see lots the coastal birds such as gulls, terns and sandpipers. I was able to see a rare visitor at Rockport Beach when I spotted a Sooty Tern. This was rare because Sooty Terns mainly nest in Hawaii and most birders typically find them by visiting the islands of the Dry Tortugas, west of the Florida Keys.
Another good location in March was the Cove Harbor Bird Sanctuary. This 100 acre wetland has a 800 foot boardwalk which takes one out into the marsh. Sharon and I saw many great birds in March before she left for North Carolina. Our favorite sightings were the diverse shorebirds and of course, the Roseate Spoonbills. Even earlier in March Fulton Harbor is usually the place to be see to many species of ducks but we arrived in Rockport too late for that this year.
As April rolled around the ducks and many shorebirds had already made their way through and were replaced by the smaller and in many cases more colorful birds. Most seasoned birders will be on a mission to find the many species of Warblers who migrate through the area. I have birded many of the hot spots near my campground but have found the best birding in three locations.
One is nearby at Goose Island State Park. Here they even have a “Bird Host” who is a volunteer RV’er who sets up feeders to attract birds. There is one particular spot within the park with several small water features where I have been fortunate to see many beautiful warblers. One can always expect to see some photographers with huge lenses there as well as at the next two locations I will mention.
The other two hot spots are further away. To get to them I had to drive over to Aransas Pass and take the ferry to Port Aransas. I'd say that probably the best birding spot was called the Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center. They too have a boardwalk where shorebirds, ducks, terns and gulls can be seen along with a rather large alligator. However on the walk toward the boardwalk I found some short trees and shrubs where at times were loaded with warblers who were tired from navigating the gulf coast and had stopped to fatten up before moving further north.
Another hotspot I have loved is called the Willows and is a very small wooded area with a very small pond. It was hit or miss with birds but when they were there, it could have been thousands of them. Once when I arrived I saw spots of orange, red and blue all over the foliage as the Orioles, Buntings and Grosbeaks were abundant, looking almost like ornaments on the trees.
A resource for finding many other birding spots is the EBird website and searching for “Hot Spots” near you. Visit a few and enjoy not only a inexpensive way to spend an afternoon but a great way to connect with nature while on the Road of Retirement…
NOTE: While Sharon is in North Carolina I am currently at Angler’s Retreat in Rockport Texas until May 12th…